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CANNES 2024 Cannes Premieres

Review: To Live, To Die, To Live Again


- CANNES 2024: Gaël Morel signs a simple, refined and touching melodrama, about a love triangle that sees its world turn upside down

Review: To Live, To Die, To Live Again
Théo Christine and Victor Belmondo in To Live, To Die, To Live Again

“What were you thinking about when doing this?” When youth, feelings and the prospect of death tightly intertwine, paradoxical emotions set in, between feelings of injustice, anger, pain and compassion, and life inevitably carries on, with the future, as if suspended, in which it is hard to project oneself in the moment. But it is also a time of raw sensibility, of profound echoes and small gestures that mean a lot. Such is the universal territory that French filmmaker Gaël Morel has invested with great delicacy in To Live, To Die, To Live Again, unveiled in the Cannes Premières programme at the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

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“I understand how someone could love you”. Nurse Emma (the charismatic Lou Lampros) lives in Paris with subway conductor Sammy (Théo Christine, as delicate as ever) and their very young son Nathan, but a new chapter of their lives begins when they move into the apartment next door to the lab of photographer Cyril (a very good Victor Belmondo). The latter gets friendly and very quickly much more than that with Sammy, a romantic passion that is soon noticed by Emma who accepts the situation, making a pact of non-aggression with Cyril, whom she likes. But the soap bubbles of happy days burst very quickly (“it’s starting to sting”) since we are in the 1990s and hovers the shadow of AIDS, which will hit the trio…

Very fluidly covering a decade thanks to a multitude of small ellipses and a 5-year one, the narrative (co-written by the director with Laurette Polmanss) progresses very skillfully, distilling the charm of encounters, the surprises and shocks, the despair and acceptance as well as a touch of fantasy, all integrated with tenderness by the little phalanstery of these kind-hearted characters. The filmmaker finds a just distance between the underlying emotional violence of the script (infection, the devouring of the illness, loss) and a moving little tune perfectly wrapped up by the compositions of Georges Delerue. This formal exigence keeps the tragic tension of the film in perfect balance, making the emotions at once heartbreaking and restrained in the urgency of the present, almost as if sketching the picture of eternal youth. This hunger for life against all odds is symbolised by a joyful reimagining of a sequence from Leos Carax’s film Bad Blood (with Modern Love by David Bowie on the soundtrack) and a tender twilight escapade in the Italian city of Sorrento. All of this makes for a film which fully, and with moving modesty, fulfils the programme of its title: to live, to die, to live again.

To Live, To Die, To Live Again was produced by ARP Sélection and co-produced by Arte France Cinéma. International sales are handled by Goodfellas.

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(Translated from French)

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