Directed by Cécile Ducrocq.
Starring Laure Calamy, Nissim Renard, Romain Brau, Sam Louwyk and Beatrice Facquer.
Marie, a strong-willed and independent prostitute, decides to enroll her rebellious son in a prestigious cooking school. A task that turns out to be much more challenging than she had previously imagined.
French filmmaker Cécile Ducrocq is certainly off to a sensational start with her first debut. your way. The film, which later earned a Best Actress nomination at the 2022 Cesar Awards for its lead actress Laure Calamy, has since been garnering rave reviews in recognition of her captivating performances and candid storytelling.
Ducrocq, who co-wrote the story with Stéphane Demoustier, keeps things simple and straightforward plot-wise, opting to make this a more performance-focused affair, which was a wise move on his part because it gives him the breathing room he needs to for Calamy to deliver a more visceral and emotionally resonant performance. And damn she delivers. This is her movie, without a doubt, and she just owns it.
A single mother raising an emotionally volatile teenager is challenging enough, but when you add a line of work like prostitution into the mix, things tend to get even more complicated. It’s clear from the start that Marie’s son, Adrien (Nissim Renard), resents her mother’s occupation and her tantrums are simply her way of communicating how much she dislikes him. He smokes marijuana all day, sleeps late, and has no interest in finding a job to support his mother.
Wanting a better future for Adrien, Marie enrolls the surly teenager in one of the best cooking schools in France. But the exclusivity and prestige of the school come at a high price, and this becomes a major obstacle for our headstrong single mother. However, Marie struggles, burning the candle at both ends to make ends meet.
Calamy’s powerful performance captures all of his character’s emotional ups and downs believably as he navigates the various obstacles and curveballs that stand in his way. It’s a nuanced, multi-layered act and the talented actress more than deserves all the praise she’s received.
Nissim Renard is the Yang of Calamy’s Ying, creating a realistic portrayal of a troubled young man wandering aimlessly through existence. You initially hate him at first because of his emotional outbursts and his stubborn disposition, but when the credits roll, he is a different man imbued with a sense of purpose and commitment.
Of the supporting cast, Romain Brau also stood out as the transgender lawyer tasked with reluctantly guiding the stubborn Adrien at Marie’s request. And his advice makes a big difference during the school application process.
Kudos to Cécile Ducrocq for pulling off such exquisite performances from the film’s lead and supporting cast. No one stumbles or misses a step, and that’s quite a feat to accomplish in a debut film. I expect great things from Ducrocq in the years to come. Cinematographer Noé Bach also deftly captures the beautiful dichotomy of kaleidoscopic French nightlife and sun-kissed sunshine during the day. The interior shots are also equally impressive to behold; from fancy neon-lit clubs to boring suburban monotony.
Laure Calamy is a feat in this bittersweet and heartfelt French drama. The raw sincerity of her phenomenal performance transforms a simple but formulaic premise into something special, and that alone is worth the price of admission.
Flashing Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Hasitha Fernando is a part-time doctor and a full-time movie buff. Follow him on Twitter at @DoctorCinephile for regular updates on the world of entertainment.