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CANNES 2023 Critics’ Week

Review: It’s Raining in the House


- CANNES 2023: Paloma Sermon-Daï turns to fiction with this story of a brother and sister confronted with the last summer of their childhood, between carelessness and social determinism

Review: It’s Raining in the House
Purdey and Makenzy Lombet in It’s Raining in the House

Is there a maximum height of the sky where we are stuck? This question, asked with the naivety of his 15 years by Donovan, Makenzy's best friend, echoes long after leaving the screening of Paloma Sermon-Daï's first feature film, It's Raining in the House [+see also:
interview: Paloma Sermon-Daï
film profile
, selected in competition at the 62nd Critics' Week of the 76th Cannes Film Festival. Makenzy, 15, and Purdey, 17, live alone, or almost alone, in the house left to them by their grandmother. Their father is absent and their mother has left. If they can rely on each other, they must find ways to face the world. During a scorching summer, they will have to say goodbye to what remains of their childhood.

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Between two outings to the lake, where the swirls of the water and the rays of the sun seem to provide them with the little carefree time they are allowed, they face a reality whose harshness is hard to negotiate. While Makenzy lives on small expedients to improve his daily life, Purdey gradually gives up his personal ambitions to compensate for the deficiencies of his parents, and to ensure his future and that of his brother by taking care of the most urgent needs: finding a roof over their heads and something to eat. The two of them, throughout various encounters, from the ambitious boyfriend to the insolently wealthy young holidaymaker and the real estate agent who makes sure to put Purdey back in his place, become aware of the glass ceiling that prevents them from aiming for the moon.

Paloma Sermon-Daï depicts a summer of little things that make up a big whole in this first feature film. The young filmmaker made a name for herself with Petit Samedi, a very personal documentary (she questioned the weight of drug addiction on the intense relationship between her brother and her mother), and deeply rooted in her territory. We find this anchoring, as well as her ability to approach intimacy with true modesty but without pretense in this chiaroscuro fiction whose interpretation she has entrusted to real brothers and sisters of her acquaintance (Purdey - her niece - and Makenzy Lombet, amazing in their presence and naturalness), taking them with her in a powerful fiction fed by reality. The director manages to convey the dizzying precariousness that hovers over the existence of her protagonists without ever making a spectacle of it, focusing on their doubts and aspirations.

The torpor that the photographic treatment of the image (conceived with the director of photography Frédéric Noirhomme) makes us feel seems to fall little by little on the two young people, whose relationship gets more distant even as they would like to get closer. This house, which is falling apart and whose cracks they try in vain to fill, represents both their heritage and all their points of reference, but also the weight of a social assignment that hinders their impulses. While childhood is still written on their faces, they are propelled into an adult life that leaves little room for hope. Unless, perhaps, the unbreakable bond that unites them lifts them up.

It’s Raining in the House is produced by Michigan Films (Belgium), which had already accompanied the young director for her multi-awarded documentary, and co-produced by Kidam (France) and Visualantics (Belgium). International sales will be handled by Heretic.

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(Translated from French)

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