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CANNES 2024 Cannes Première

Review: Misericordia


- CANNES 2024: Alain Guiraudie crafts a delectable study of human nature, which falls midway between film noir and comedy in the micro-society of a remote village

Review: Misericordia
Félix Kysyl in Misericordia

"Is that why you’re constructing this totally unfeasible story?" With its secrecy, double-speak, forceful desire, lies, truth, mushroom picking and aperitifs aplenty, Misericordia [+see also:
interview: Alain Guiraudie
film profile
, which recently enthused the Cannes Première section of the 77th Cannes Film Festival, sees French director Alain Guiraudie once again demonstrating his delightful singularity, which is meticulously revealed through an incredible screenplay which fully sets the scene before taking a succession of sharp narrative bends and arriving at the heart of a constellation of small and discrete forest roads and narrow human streets where all kinds of comical surprises are possible.

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The film oversees a gradual proliferation of coincidences which aren’t actually coincidences over the course of ten days, homing in on five main characters (and three supporting cast members) who are gathered together in the tiny village of Saint-Martial, nestled away in the mountains of the Ardèches, where the story begins with the burial of the local baker. Having returned home for the occasion, former baker’s boy Jérémie (Félix Kysyl) stirs up envy and jealousy in the village, staying with placid widow Martine (Catherine Frot) to the great displeasure of her son Vincent (Jean-Baptiste Durand). Add to this, loner Walter (David Ayala) and a parish priest (Jacques Develay) who continually pops up at the most unexpected moments and in the unlikeliest of places, and we have the full cast of protagonists taking part in this formidable and hilarious maelstrom of diurnal and nocturnal movements and comings and goings, based on the principle of repetition (from the forest to the bedroom and from Walter’s building to Martine’s kitchen table where developments are discussed). In no time at all, there’s a disappearance (which the audience knows is a murder committed by Jérémie) followed by questions, suspicions and a police investigation. But given that we’re in the unpredictable world of Alain Guiraudie, there’s far more lurking beneath the surface…

"You couldn’t make up these kinds of desires". Excelling in the art of creating an air of contained strangeness in what seems to be a wholly normal environment, the filmmaker makes the most of his autumnal surrounds (with Claire Mathon heading up photography) to ensure his delicate music resonates, a music which is part gentle teasing and part undeniable affection for the incredibly human sentimental weaknesses displayed by his characters from deepest France ("everyone’s entitled to a private life"). Criss-crossed with progressively close relationships, staggering confessions, and lies of various proportions, the film successfully flirts in grey zones ("there’s a chance he doesn’t love you like you love him or in the way you’d like to be loved") where there’s often a very fine line between fighting and embracing, in a society where everyone really does know everything and where everyone makes peace with their own consciences as best they can.

Misericordia is produced by CG Cinéma in co-production with Scala Films and Arte France Cinéma, Andergraun Films (Spain) and Rosa Filmes (Portugal). The movie is sold worldwide by Les Films du Losange.

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(Translated from French)

Photogallery 21/05/2024: Cannes 2024 - Miséricorde

12 pictures available. Swipe left or right to see them all.

Alain Guiraudie
© 2024 Fabrizio de Gennaro for Cineuropa -,

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