Before revealing the top 10 of the editorial staff, a little catch-up of three films from 2022 not mentioned so far in our columns.
The music of Little Solange
Hermannian composer with Nicolas Pariser (The Green Perfume), project manager of a musical for Serge Bozon (Don Juan), Benjamin Esdraffo also signed, with the short soundtrack of Little Solange by Axelle Ropert (consisting of only four tracks), some of the most beautiful musical themes of the year 2022. Nothing to do, for example, with the work of Alex Beaupain for Christophe Honoré; the pieces of Esdraffo do not overlap with an imaginary “New wave” however cultivated the film (between Truffaut and even Demy, Solange going to the Passage Pommeraye). The composer rejects any jazz or pop influence in favor of a Hollywood lyricism in minor mode, where the restraint of the orchestrations enhances the splendor of the scattered strings. Small layers of winds (trumpets and flutes) are thus enough to reveal an abyss of sadness responding to the despair of Solange, a solitary spectator of the distant tearing of her family. The padded notes of the piano in the first seconds of “L’Envol”, the last title of the soundtrack (available on the accounts Youtube and Soundcloud of the composer), restore the gradual muting of the heroine’s emotions, the only way for her to support her parents’ divorce. From the opening credits, unexpected changes of tonalities, with the almost disturbing irruption of a plaintive flute, announced on their side the coming irruption of a tragedy. Plunged into the night by dint of seeing all the doors closing in front of her (that of her brother’s room, her father’s shop, her own house), Solange is desperately seeking meager comfort in her isolation. , like Verlaine’s Kaspar Hauser, the derisory hero of a song that brings the child to tears. Bordering on the morbid without ever sinking into it, thanks precisely to the delicacy of the compositions, Little Solange also owes a lot to its female performers, Léa Drucker in the lead. The latter manages to breathe a truly overwhelming fragility into her absent mother character and it is difficult to hold back her tears during the final scene, when, helpless before the coldness of her daughter bruised by loneliness, she desperately tries to breathe a little joy in a lackluster birthday party, before his voice choked: ” But what, I still have the right to tell my daughter to come see me… And Esdraffo’s piano then returns gently, a discreet setting for the sobs of a mother and a daughter who have not managed to find each other.
Eight hours don’t make a day – Works and Days ‘Anders Edström and CW Winter
Film of immense dimensions, Works and Days paradoxically stems from a form of narrowing. Like the haikus that open each of the five chapters (all taken from a collection of poems composed by poets on the verge of death), the gesture of the film consists in drawing a world from a handful of elements. This world is the daily life of Tayoko Shiojiri, mother-in-law of Anders Edström, whose existence is divided between her family and her work as a farmer in a village in the Shiotani basin, in Japan. Eight hours of film, or a day of cinema (the filmmakers thought of it that way, in continuity, although the film was distributed in three parts), it’s not too much to experience these days and these nights (dark like real nights, not movie nights) that pass in front of the camera. Minimalist fiction as there is minimalist music, Works and Days simply accompanies the passage of time with a family, the Shiakata-Shijori, over the seasons. Fictionalising consists only here of getting ahead of the characters in their movements, or of recreating (one guesses it) certain micro-events or discussions already experienced. The camera, unfailingly fixed (barely a handful of panoramas in eight hours) captures pell-mell scenes of daily life, still lifes, landscapes, meals and short trips, always remaining at the same height, that with a look. The impression produced is that of a camera that cannot be detached from its foot, planted then abandoned in various places like a sort of scarecrow. Through sublime but never virtuoso shots, this intangible and solitary presence invites, through repetition and the dilation of time, to widen the field of its perception. More than a vision and a listening, the film requires cohabitation. It is up to the viewer to agree to live with him, even if it means sometimes closing his eyes for a few minutes. It will still be there when you wake up, revealing the top of a mountain or the reflection of a puddle.
Rarely has making a film looked so much like labor: while Tayoko works the earth, the filmmakers seem to clear the material of image and sound, as if to touch something of the order of a truth or of an inaccessible reality. In an obsessive and hypnotic way (one thinks of the incredible pages on the repetitive intoxication of the harvest in Anna Karenina), the filmmakers try to exhaust the material of a place where no one stops, as evidenced here by the cars that constantly pass through the middle of the village, on a road which we understand was built after the family settled down. With the rigor of Zen monks, Anders Edström and CW Winter accompany Tayoko in this way for several years, as she prepares to say goodbye to her sick husband. Junji eventually dies at the dawn of the film’s final hour. A few scenes later, a neighbor comes to pray at Tayoko’s. ” I wish I had spent more time with him he said half-heartedly, sincere and helpless. Works and Daysamong a thousand other things, will have made it possible to do it a little, just a little.
Luck smiles on Mrs. Nikuko by Ayumu Watanabe
The many kitchen scenes that punctuate Luck smiles on Mrs. Nikuko, released on the sly this summer on French screens, synthesize somewhere the project of the film: whether it is a picturesque portrait of a small community by the sea or the pleasure aroused by cooking a piece of meat of Kobe, it is above all to a feeling of comfort that Ayumu Watanabe’s new film is devoted. Adopting the untied form of the day-to-day chronicle, the story stalls on that of Kikuko, an ill-at-ease teenager, to paint a kaleidoscopic portrait of a gallery of colorful characters. Struggling to find her place alongside the gargantuan Mrs. Nikuko, her intrusive adoptive mother, Kikuko spends her time with a mute boy, her classmates or the customers of the restaurant where she goes every evening; each time, chance encounters underline his discrepancy in relation to others, as the first emotions of adolescence arise. Her excessive restraint towards her own impulses (materialized by her obsession with rules and her obsessive relationship with food) makes her oscillate between indifference and hostility for the gentle madness of her fellow creatures. The structure of the film derives from his mood, divided between moments of silent calm and graphic delirium. The story then draws a somewhat Manichean dividing line opposing Nikuko’s excesses to the sullen character of his daughter, which the director nevertheless manages to overcome by the attention he pays to all of his protagonists, animals included, a talkative seagull to a psychopathic penguin. Kikuko’s journey reaches its climax during a scene where the young girl ends up entering into communion with her entourage, after several revelations about her past. She then discovers the model made by her chilled lover, also caught up in a dialectic between retention and excess (as evidenced by these grimacing TOCs): reproducing the point of view of a hiding place located above the village, at the Separated from the rest of the community, the diorama endows the decor with a unity that the fragmented construction of the scenario had hitherto denied it. During this beautiful privileged moment, the eccentricity of the couple in the making thus becomes the condition sine qua non to finally access the beauty of the world.