REVIEW / FILM REVIEW – “A young girl who is fine”, Sandrine Kiberlain’s first feature film, with Rebecca Marder, André Marcon, and Anthony Bajon, plunges into the daily life of a Jewish family in 1942.
The life of a young Jewish girl in 1942
After trying her hand at short films (Good face), actress Sandrine Kiberlain directed his first feature film, A young girl who is well. A film as ambitious as it is realistic, he tries to answer the questions that continue to haunt those whose loved ones’ lives have come to an abrupt end. How can you chase your dreams when you’re at war? How can you continue to believe in art and beauty when what men show is so sly and dark?
The director, who also signs the screenplay, follows in the footsteps of Irène (Rebecca Marder), a 19-year-old Parisian. Solar and animated by her passion for the theater, she discovers the life and the impulses of her heart. She is surrounded by a loving family and everything would be for the best in the world if the action was not set in May 1942. And if Irene and her family didn’t now have the obligation to wear the Yellow Star, designating them in the eyes of others for what they are not only: Jews. In one date and from the first images of the film, the context is thus set, clean, without embellishments.
Sandrine Kiberlain cannot be blamed for showing yet another fiction on the fate of Jewish families constrained by the French government during the Second World War. On the contrary, we can only thank her for making the spectator penetrate, through the prism of everyday life and the gaze of his heroine, into the intimacy of his family. Because the way in which these ordinary heroes face the multiple impediments and prohibitions, each in their own way, is overwhelming.
Irène’s father, André (André Marcon, as always formidable) thus welcomes with concern the absurdity and the amplitude of the anti-Jewish measures, under the wing of Josiane (Florence Viala), his benevolent neighbor. Irène’s maternal grandmother, Marceline (Françoise Widhoff), rebels against these constraints thanks to her caustic and pessimistic humor. Irene’s older brother, Igor (Anthony Bajon), naively waits for his non-Jewish lover to understand his situation. As for Irène, she hopes, learns, lives as joyfully as possible, and discovers love. with Jacques (Cyril Metzger). Even if her body lets go of her sometimes, reminding her through her discomfort of the gravity of the situation.
The certainty of the inexorable
Their common will to continue to live despite everything, without pretending but hoping that the worst is not to come, grips the heart. Because the strength of the film is obviously due to the fact that we, spectators who know the story, let’s assume what will happen to them after this first screed of constraints. This certainty of the inexorable is never questioned by the director and neither doubt nor hope is allowed. The only question that the director seems to allow the viewer to ask is: when?
But in the meantime, Sandrine Kiberlain manages remarkably to make the members of this family endearing (a little less Igor, who lacks asperities), within which love and respect circulate. Of Irene’s mother, we will know nothing, because no one ever mentions her, but her absence and her influence are perceptible in small subtle touches. Few films transcend family loves so much., giving the viewer the impression of being a full member.
Their small apartment is a haven of peace, lightness, and tenderness contrasting with the chaos outside. It turns out to be a cocoon where art, theater, and music express themselves in friendly and free exchanges. Every relationship that father, grandmother, brother, and daughter have with each other is touching with truth and generosity. And then, the war gradually comes out of the field until it finally takes over the whole field. Until a chilling final scene and a poignant exchange of glances with friend Viviane (India Hair), which will still be remembered for a long time.
When we think of Sandrine Kiberlain the actress, it is often the delicacy, subtlety, accuracy, and modesty of her playing that define her. It is not surprising that these qualifiers also define her as a director because she brilliantly holds her story from start to finish and gives food for thought on the darkness of the human soul.