Panorama | Youth | Spotlight on France
Both a zeitgeist snapshot of what it is to be young and facing an uncertain future in France today and a tense tale of repressed violence, Laurent Cantet’s (VIFF 08 Palme d’Or winner The Class) brilliantly conceived drama tackles subjects like joblessness, the spate of recent terrorist attacks, the rise of the far right and religious radicalization, but it does so using tropes found in the most crackling of thrillers.
In the depressed coastal town of La Ciotat (near Marseille), a diverse group of students join a novel-writing workshop headed up by Olivia Dejazet (the superb Marina Foïs), a successful Paris-based writer of mysteries. The one thing the smart and vocal group agrees on is that the project they should work towards is a suspense novel. As the students spout their opinions, it becomes clear that one of them, Antoine (newcomer Matthieu Lucci, entrancing) is a hot-headed reactionary who may, in fact, also be violent. Soon Olivia’s inability to control her class and Antoine’s increasingly erratic behaviour take Cantet’s film (credit must also be given to Beats Per Minute director Robin Campillo, who co-wrote the script) in a gripping direction…
"Cantet makes an enthralling return to form with this topical fusion of political debate session and socially conscious thriller… [The] screenplay… bristles with both big ideas and small-scale human insight… First-time actor Lucci—who, like the rest of the young ensemble, was enlisted through local open casting—is a frankly astounding discovery, reconciling Antoine’s frightening reserves of hatred and physical menace with an awkward, knotted innocence."—Guy Lodge, Variety