Echoes of Dostoyevsky. At the start, Christine Blanc is a temp, her boyfriend has gone. Near the story's end, she's been offered a steady job, she has a fiancé, other men seem interested in... See full summary »
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When an 11-year-old girl is brutally raped and murdered in a quiet French village, a police detective who has forgotten how to feel emotions--because of the death of his own family in some kind of accident--investigates the crime, which turns out to ask more questions than it answers.
Echoes of Dostoyevsky. At the start, Christine Blanc is a temp, her boyfriend has gone. Near the story's end, she's been offered a steady job, she has a fiancé, other men seem interested in her, she's passed her driving test, and, after she wins 1000 Euros in a scratch-off, her colleagues sing that she's a jolly good fellow ("one of us"). But something's askew: her gaze is too direct, her eyes open too widely; conversational gambits hit odd notes; she parrots others' words; she cooks too much food when she invites a supervisor to dinner. When the supervisor takes Christine on a spontaneous outing that disorients her, her oddities become something else. Can things ever be normal? Written by
Christine Blanc (Sasha Andrés) is a young woman whose name answers to her personality. She's a stalwart temporary secretary who correctly earns a livelihood and however she looks absent to her surrounding. She's also well aware that her life is empty until the day she strikes up a friendship with Patricia (Catherine Mouchet) who searches jobs for her. But this friendship brutally comes to an end when one day at the swimming pool, Christine kills her. From then onwards, everything is fine for her: she passes her driving test, she has a more steady and lucrative job, she has a lover and however these aren't rational consequences of the horrendous act she committed...
I must acknowledge that I was very taken with this daunting work shot by Siegfrid Alnoy which is likely to travel for a long time in my mind. If she aimed at shaking our reassuring convinced ideas about society, work and leisure, she admirably succeeded in her task. Blur, ambiguity to tell Christine's outlandish adventure, her position in the world and personality are her best weapons. Like the Degas police officer, one is very intrigued by this idiosyncratic woman and although the director offers us a few clues likely to shed more light on her personality (see the sequence in the restaurant between the two characters), she keeps all her mystery from this perspective. Even before the murder, she seems elusive to the eyes of the audience: does she reject the world or does the world reject her? And after the murder, see the glaring contrast: a numb, senseless Christine Blanc superseded a wan one.
Beyond Christine Blanc's ascension, "Elle est Des Nôtres" raises serious problems about a ravenous consuming society and a heartless world of work. It holds a deeply pessimist vision about its members who consummate as much as they can, who are driven by the laws of market economy and don't remember human values any more. It is to Alnoy's credit that this nearly inhumane world could be ours. How chilling...
Thanks to a sparse cinematographic writing, eerie camera angles, a big attention brought to the sound (the film should have had a nomination for the Best Sound at the César Ceremony in 2004), a music which often has the form of a barely audible note scattered with disturbing musical effects, Siegfrid Alnoy conjures up a disquieting climate which takes the form of an increasing crescendo throughout the film. The murder sequence made me look away and I can say that I hadn't been impressed by a murder sequence for a long time. Actors aren't very known in the French mainstream and their somewhat blank acting help to maintain the malaise.
The title of the film comes from a French popular song that is sung when someone is about to drink a glass of alcohol for the very first time. Once she swallowed the beverage, her peers sing: "she's one of us. She drank her glass like the others!". This type of sequence is shown in the film when Christine is in a restaurant with her colleagues to celebrate her success at her driving test. Yes, "she's one of us" and "she's also part of an oppressive system that destroys her and transforms her in a normal monster". These are Siegfird Alnoy's words about her work. Its only fault is that the form has sometimes the tendency to forget the contents. But it doesn't stop you from watching an unnerving, compelling work that will haunt you for a long time.
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