Presented and acclaimed at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, “Les Hérosques” is Maxime Roy’s first feature film. A film that tells with precision and poetry a social, intimate and family drama, exploring the theme of addiction, fatherhood and marginality. A tough but successful film, sublimated by an unforgettable performance by François Créton.
In the heart of the storm
We would like to be able to see and live The Heroics with the patience that the subjects of the film may ask for. Addictions, fatherhood, insecurity and loneliness, so many sensitive and potentially frightening themes that Maxime Roy seized with force for his first feature film. He takes up his themes like his film grabs his spectators, with urgency, proximity and nevertheless delicacy. And to develop his themes, the director relies on a formidable main actor, François Créton, seen here and there recently, especially in season 8 ofGears and in part 2 of Lupine. Appearances without any measure with his performance at the same time dark and solar of his character of Michel in The Heroics.
The Heroics opens with a long monologue from a man to a talk group of Alcoholics Anonymous. Framed on a face marked by years of addiction, Michel explains his journey, his difficulty in welcoming his infant, from whom he has just separated from the mother. He still loves her, he wants to do well but he can’t. There is also her first son, Léo, barely of age. And he, Michel, who cannot make ends meet, who sleeps in a cellar and survives from day to day. “I would like to come one day and not be clean, anyway what’s the point? I’m not a clean guy.” This monologue is terrible, hypnotic, and François Créton’s performance is already sublime..
In three minutes and a few seconds, including violence gives a much longer feeling of length, the whole film is posed: in this hostile world where great solitudes are struggling, Michel will try to get up, to take care of his relatives – who are fleeing him – and to be happy. It starts from very far, and The Heroics takes his spectators by the hand to make him follow his path towards redemption, towards a rebirth. A difficult path then begins, that of abandoning addictions and taking responsibility. Will he achieve it?
A story of handover to renew the bonds of society
Maxime Roy and François Créton made this film together, from writing to shooting, starting from a first short film shot together and already on the same theme: Beautiful Loser. The actor finds here a fictional role which he nevertheless nourishes from his own experiences. Tattooed, emaciated, soiled, he embodies a marginal whose kindness and sensitivity are awkwardly expressed in a society made up of solitudes. There is his ex Hélène (Clotilde Courau) and mother of their newborn, also isolated and tired, his father Claude (Richard Bohringer), embittered and seriously ill, with whom he cannot communicate.
To repair this link, to take note of the past, is to look to the future, and this is what wants to show The Heroics. To be a man, to become a father and not to be just a child, it is here an imprecation to bind oneself to the other, to take care of him, to build a society together. The Heroics, through the grace of his story, indeed manages to paint a portrait of a society at its end, exhausted by its difficulties and the infinite loneliness of its individuals.
Both a clown who expresses himself in verlan, a marginal with a suspicious look on his motorcycle and under his embroidered “Loser” jacket, blundering father and sincere lover, Michel offers a modern, authentic and tragic version of the “Peter Pan syndrome” . He acts with his son Léo (Roméo Créton, true son of François) as if they were the same age, sharing joints and being part of a punk dynamic that does not bode well. The women around him, Hélène and Josiane, his father’s companion (Ariane Ascaride), have only one word to say to him: “grow up!”.
At 53, it might be about time, but maybe it’s already too late. This is what we fear when Michel, wishing to find work in mechanics, refuses to take training, not accepting at that moment what appears to him to be infantilization. He is the beaten child of a violent father, himself a father who does not take responsibility, a rejected lover, he is a terribly lonely man. So when he sits down next to his sick father, and the words of “My old man” by Daniel Guichard, the gentleness of this humanity crushes all cynicism and individualism, the two great values of the 21st …