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VENICE 2007 Critics’ Week

Lespert debuts as a director with 24 mesures

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French actor Jalil Lespert (Human Resources, Le petit Lieutenant) debuts as a feature director with 24 mesures [+see also:
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, a kaleidoscope of gritty interlocking stories set at Christmas time. It has its world premiere in the Venice Critics’ Week and will open in France on December 5 through MK2, who also handle sales.

On Christmas Eve, four lonely souls connect with each other in different pairings, recognising each other’s loneliness because it is similar to their own. Lubna Azabal’s Helly has a past of drug use and prostitution and only wants to see her son but is not allowed to. Taxi driver Didier (Benoît Magimel) is caught up in a mess from which there seems to be only one way out. Bérangère Allaux’s Marie is a rich girl who is distracted when she is on the road, while jazz drummer Chris (Sami Bouajila) finally gets the gig he has been waiting for.

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“The meaning of their actions should be taken at face value,” the director explained, underlining that “there is nothing intellectual about them, nothing betrays their thoughts”. The film indeed feels like a documentary at times, set in night-time environments that look as inhospitable as the characters and with hand-held camerawork that stays close to the protagonists at all times.

Azabal, on whom the film opens and closes, is almost unrecognisable with her peroxided hairdo and is the actor who impresses most, though acting is strong from the entire ensemble. The film is also well put together, double backing on itself several times without feeling forced. Nevertheless, the last section involving jazz drummer Chris -which is in English and features an ominous voice-over - first feels unconnected to the rest of the film.

24 mesures (the title is a reference to the bars in music) was produced by French outfits WY Productions and MK2 Productions and the Canadians of Equinoxe Films.

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