Review: No Love Lost
- CANNES 2023: Erwan Le Duc delivers an inventive and highly rhythmic film, verging on slapstick, depicting a social and sentimental drama with poetic levity
"You need to come back down to Earth, think about your life and adapt, like the rest of us." Discovered in 2019 in the Directors’ Fortnight by way of his offbeat debut feature film The Bare Necessity [+see also:
interview: Erwan Le Duc
film profile], Erwan Le Duc is now returning to the Croisette with No Love Lost [+see also:
interview: Erwan Le Duc
film profile], which is screening in the closing slot of the 62nd edition of Critics’ Week in the Cannes Film Festival, and which marks an intensification or a variation (depending on your viewpoint) of his style, which is more akin to Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati, Aki Kaurismäki or Elia Suleiman than the usual, naturalist French tradition. His potent injections of poetic levity endow this fast-paced film with a handful of frankly hilarious sequences, without stopping it from “seriously” exploring its subject: an osmotic relationship between a father and his daughter who are nearing a crossroads, which will see the young woman leaving her childhood and the family nest behind her.
"To begin with, Étienne (Nahuel Pérez-Biscayart) is 20 years old and he’s totally clueless". It all begins at 200 miles per hour, with a revolutionary love-at-first-sight encounter with Valérie (Mercedes Dassy), who, at a later point, suddenly ups and abandons her idyllic life and the child it brought forth. As such, Étienne, now a football coach, has raised Rosa on his own, the latter having spent the first 17 years of her life in a world of pure happiness, thanks to a father with boundless energy and enthusiasm who put his own life on hold in order to fully devote himself to his daughter. But this state of grace seems to be drawing to a close: accepted on a course at the Beaux-Arts de Metz art school hundreds of kilometres away, Rosa (Céleste Brunnquell) is about to leave the family home which Étienne has put up for sale so that he can move elsewhere with his girlfriend Hélène (Maud Wyler). It’s difficult for the young woman to envisage leaving her father, but it’s far worse for the latter, because not only is his job at risk on account of the town hall’s decision to plant trees on the plot currently occupied by the football pitch, he also catches sight of Valérie on screen during a report on surfing in Nazaré, Portugal. And it comes as a shock, to say the least…
A filmmaker who knows how to carve out his own space and who’s especially skilled when it comes to the unexpected, and comical contrasts (including a world-class lullaby scene), Erwan Le Duc sets his playful universe on the edge of a modern-day world which is both unique and complex, and well-anchored in the (mainly ecological) worries of its time. It’s a work whose various components are separated out in order to create an original portrait where emotion hides behind every intention. Paradoxically, this creates an emotional distance with the viewer, as the director's talent for counterpoint becomes a little too fomulaic. But this doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy ourselves immensely, following in the wake of the film’s two impeccable lead actors.
No Love Lost is produced by Domino Films and sold worldwide by Playtime.
(Translated from French)
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