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CANNES 2024 Critics’ Week

Review: Block Pass


- CANNES 2024: Antoine Chevrollier delivers a fine and dynamic first feature in the form of a coming-of-age story, set in a rural area of France which is rendered invisible or caricatured on screen

Review: Block Pass
Amaury Foucher and Artus Solaro in Block Pass

"It’s really dark – It’s just the battle between good and evil. The apocalypse isn’t the end of the world, it’s an unveiling: the end of one world before another is born". Discovering a medieval tapestry on show at a castle in Angers, fifty or so kilometres from the market town of Longué where he’s finishing his high school studies, Willy (Sayyid El Alami) - the highly likeable protagonist of Block Pass [+see also:
interview: Antoine Chevrollier
film profile
, French director Antoine Chevrollier’s debut feature film which was presented in competition in Critics’ Week, unspooling within the 77th Cannes Film Festival - doesn’t yet know, despite a few warning signs, that his everyday life, bearings, and perception of his environment are about to be turned upside down.

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Motors are revving in the lives of mechanic Willy and his childhood friend, intrepid super motocross bike racer Jojo (Amaury Foucher), who’s still in the running for the title of French Champion and who’s coached by his omnipresent father (Damien Bonnard) and by Teddy (Artus Solaro) on the training ground known as La Pampa. But our two youngsters also lead a typically idle teenage life with their long-term friends: whizzing along local roads on their motorbikes, dodging death, shooting guns in the countryside and paying clandestine nighttime visits to the local swimming pool with various girls, including Marina (Léonie Dahan Lamort), who’s at university in Angers and is currently visiting her parents. "It’s like we’re in the ‘50s with all these rumours and obsessions with reputations" - the young woman remarks - "you have to open your mind". And, as it happens, the certitudes of young Willy, who is still deeply affected by his father’s death from years earlier, are set to be radically shaken…

Through a simple yet effective storyline (based on a screenplay penned by the director, together with Bérénice Bocquillon and Faïza Guène) involving teenage rebellion for independence, the confusing emotional transition to adulthood and the need to “find one’s place”, Block Pass paints an incredibly keen portrait of the macho culture at work in a region where going against the grain is never easy, where being gay is reviled, where fathers’ burdens weigh on the fates of their sons, and where tendencies to self-limit impact horizons and futures, resulting in mental ruts which are hard to escape. It’s a subtly non-ostentatious and life-like work, which is enhanced by the spluttering and high-coloured energy of supercross, not to mention the music composed by the highly talented Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, and the breathtaking performance delivered by Sayyid El Alami.

Block Pass is produced by Agat Films & Cie, with world sales entrusted to Pulsar Content.

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(Translated from French)

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