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A fashion photographer with terminal cancer elects to die alone, preparing others to live past him rather than prolong the inevitable with chemotherapy or be smothered in sympathy by those who know him.
"Reines d'Un Jour" is a film composed of 4 subplots. In the time of one hour and a half, the viewer will watch a day in the lives of 4 protagonists. There's Hortense (Karin Viard), a speech therapist who spends the major part of the film with her mobile because she wants to spend the evening with one of her 2 lovers. Either Ben (Melvil Poupaud), either Sherman (Gilbert Melki). Things could take unexpected even derisory, absurd turns for her. In parallel, a young photograph Marie (Hélène Fillières) who were present at a wedding and had sex with the groom learns she's pregnant and dismissed from her job. From then onwards, she endlessly roams in Paris. On the other side of Paris, a former chef on the telly Maurice (Victor Lanoux) is about to receive a one-time lover Jane (Jane Birkin) but time passes by and keeps him waiting... At last, Luis (Sergi Lopez) a bus driver learns on duty that his wife Michèle (Clémentine Célarié) leaves him. Like Marie, he's fired from his job and wanders in Paris too to try to forget his pain...
In her precedent opus "Rien à Faire" (1999), Marion Vernoux demonstrated her own "Savoir Faire"! It means she took a rather dramatic situation and decided not to stay confined in sullenness. Through the use of a subtle and light cinematographic writing, she managed to bestow her work with a placating, even happy aura. This method worked well in the quoted film so the director did it again for her "Reines d'Un Jour". The four main protagonists all go through an unfortunate mishap and from the start the film could take a leap into a desperate blackness. There's nothing of the sort. Marion Vernoux prefers to incorporate laughter and to play with her camera and the sound to better reflect their thoughts or illusions. For instance, the viewer can often hear Hortense's thoughts about her lovers and throughout the film as the day fades to dusk the viewer can see her undecided character. And as she can't master the situations she finds herself in she is out of her depth. Another example is Maurice whose dreams or imagination about the meeting with Jane is recreated with the help of a kitsch cinematography with bright colors. So a playful form serves a gloomy content and so the gravity of the film is dismantled by a light, aerial directing constantly reinforced by a delicate music whose similar melody comes back as a leitmotiv. The director didn't also forget to maintain a proximity tinged with sympathy with her characters. And I think there's one major theme Marion Vernoux developed in her film: responsibility. Because the characters all live a drama, they behave in an irresponsible way.
The director also gathered a stellar cast with familiar actors who are always a treat to watch acting.
When a grave topic is allied with a jaunty treatment and shelves tears for smiles it can work wonders...
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