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CANNES 2024 Competition

Review: Wild Diamond


- CANNES 2024: Agathe Riedinger's first feature film is incisive, touching and very dynamic, about the high hopes of social advancement thanks to reality TV

Review: Wild Diamond
Malou Khebizi in Wild Diamond

“O you whose power extends to all our needs and who know how to make the most impossible things possible, open your eyes as a father to the interests of your children.” This is a prayer to Saint Joseph for difficult situations recited by the 19-year-old protagonist of Wild Diamond [+see also:
interview: Agathe Riedinger
film profile
, Agathe Riedinger's energetic debut feature, which was entered directly into competition at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. But if the film were to be placed under the umbrella of a religion, it would be that of modern times and the working classes dreaming of escaping their reality and achieving fame through reality TV. It's a subject that the French director tackles with a head-on, hyper-modern passion, taking the viewer along without negotiation in the touching wake of a contemporary Cosette imagining herself as Cinderella in the whirlwind of social networks.

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“I'm going to create a buzz.” Liane (Malou Khebizi, who bursts through the screen in her first film appearance) is not afraid of a good time, crossing the wasteland in her little denim shorts, crawling under fences, committing petty theft to resell perfumes, USB sticks, headphones... At home, apart from with her little sister, the atmosphere is tense, with a mother (Andréa Bescond) who is unemployed and vaguely maintained by passing men. But there are the good girlfriends from childhood and, above all, the network influencers, their beauty advice from Dubai (from secret balm on intimate mucous membranes to cosmetic surgery) and Reality TV. And a call from a casting director for season 9 of Miracle Island will turn Liane's life upside down: “We're very interested in the video you sent us.” One (fascinating) interview later, Liane already believes she's in, but it's well known that there’s many a slip ’twixt cup and lip...

With its endearing heroine, always on the move and with a strong character, aspiring to freedom and truth in the still naive tumult of a post-adolescence filled with high hopes and poorly channelled emotions, Wild Diamond paints a striking and detailed picture of a youth sucked in by a mythology of appearance and money ("in life, only the beautiful succeed. If you're good-looking, you're admired, if you're admired, you're powerful, and if you're powerful, you get paid a lot of money for it") and by their addiction to social networks (getting more followers at all costs, immersing themselves in the comments on their posts, which the film manages to turn into a real character). It's a spiral of fantasy and a quest for a swift social climb where despair creeps in, and which the filmmaker (who wrote the screenplay) unfolds very effectively, step by step, with the counterpoint of a budding and ‘normal’ romance with Dino (Idir Azougli), a young local lad. It's a hard-hitting ride on the big wheel (lottery?) of life, wrapped up in some beautiful, carnal photography from Noé Bach. And as for the prayer to Saint Joseph, since you have to believe prayers will be answered, there's no doubt that the good fairy of Cannes has bent over the cradle of a young director who lacks neither heart nor temperament.

Wild Diamond was produced by Silex Films and co-produced by France 2 Cinéma and Germaine Films and is sold by Pyramide International.

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(Translated from French)

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