CRITIQUE / FILM OPINION – Joachim Lafosse has established himself as one of the main cinematographic observers of the degradation of couples. His cinema continues in this direction with “Les Intranquilles”, a very beautiful film about a family confronted with the damage of bipolarity.
The Unquiet : a family struck by madness
While his wife is relaxing on the beach, Damien (Damien Bonnard) and his son, Amine (Gabriel Merz Chammah), are going to enjoy the sea by boat. Off the coast, the father decides to dive into the water and swim back to the shore. Thus leaving his child in the obligation to drive the boat to find the mainland. A very strange behavior, which will only be the first indication of the emergence of madness in Damien. His entourage, and in particular his wife Leïla (Leïla Bekhti), begins to worry about seeing him take inconsistent initiatives. Why get up at two in the morning to do mechanical work? Why permanently refuse to rest? Something is wrong, it’s a fact. It remains to be seen what.
Following an accident and during a stay in psychiatric service, the truth comes out. The viewer won’t really know what it is, just that it is a mental illness. It will take a long time for the term “bipolar” to be used and for us to understand what disorder is raging in Damien’s skull. The Unquiet is less a film about this disease in particular than about madness in its many incarnations, and mainly about the impact felt by those around it.
Almost a horror movie
Joachim Lafosse avoids us going through long explanatory scenes, sticking to the strict minimum on passages in the hospital environment and details on bipolarity. A choice that is justified by the desire to seize the daily struggle waged in the private sphere. On the front, in constant alert, Leïla. Observer of the slightest warning sign of a possible tragedy, she devotes herself only to her work, to protecting her son and to containing a husband who is constantly on edge. She runs after him, harasses him to take his medication, tries to control him when he no longer responds to anything.
The character of Damien, by his madness, becomes almost a horror movie villain, which worries by its unpredictability. His son will compare him to a zombie when he is fully recovered. Damien is sometimes an undead out of Romero’s house, he is also a bearded boogeyman who shakes up children, enters through the window in the middle of the night after disappearing into the wild. Joachim Lafosse does not make a genre film but The Unquiet has the features on multiple occasions with oppressive scenes where one wonders what limit this madness can meet. Several passages put us in discomfort because we feel that everything can still derail even more. We think of this gripping moment – and what precedes it – at Amine’s school.
Two breathtaking actors
The Unquiet claimed two great acting performances and that’s exactly what we find. Damien Bonnard is bluffing, disturbing, touching in its moments of lucidity – in particular a last line that knocks you down. Facing him, Leïla Bekhti is grandiose, ready to waver, ceaselessly on the nerves and yet always able to send signals of love. Joachim Lafosse observes how the family can implode at any time and finds small interstices in which to slip tenderness. Rare moments of calm, which are savored as much by the characters as the spectators. Both know they don’t really care much. Maybe a drop of lithium.
The Unquiet by Joachim Lafosse, in theaters October 6, 2021. The trailer above. Find all our trailers here.