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Ernest Toussaint, a renowned architect, lives for his work and - it could even be said - hides in it. He has a life companion, Victoire, in whom he only takes a distracted interest. One day, the bossy, haughty Ernest receives an unexpected call from the Swedish police, which will - although he does not know it yet - transform his life. Reluctantly enough first, Ernest decides to leave everything behind and to take the road to Kiruna, a small town in Swedish Lapland, where he has been asked to identify the body of ... his son. A son that he has never recognized and not even desired. On his way North he gives a lift to Magnus, a cool and sensitive young man about the same age as his late son... Written by
To this day, Anna (or Anne) Novion has made three shorts and two feature films ( 'Les grandes personnes', 2008, and 'Rendez-vous à Kiruna', 2012 ). It is to be noted that her first film effort ('Frédérique est française', 2000) as well as her two full-length pictures share a common point: the shock of two cultures, namely the French and the Swedish ones. A fact that owes nothing to chance, knowing that the young director has roots in France and in Sweden. Bringing the latter country to the fore is therefore a natural thing for her to do. In addition, it is also a guarantee of genuineness on her part as well as a plus for a French audience not really swamped with information on Scandinavian civilization. Agreed, Anna Novion has been living in France since she was born, but she has always been attracted, not to say fascinated, by her origins on her mother's side. It accordingly comes as no surprise that besides studying filmmaking she landed a postgraduate certificate whose subject was "Anxiety, Guilt and Desperation in Bergman's Work". And that Sweden is the star of three of her movies.
Moving on to "Rendez-vous à Kiruna", let it be said that the story revolves around Ernest Toussaint, a renowned architect, full of himself and always in a rotten mood. At the beginning of the movie he is seen supervising his team while they are on the verge of winning a competitive bidding contract. So why does he suddenly leave everybody behind and drives away for... Lapland? The explanation lies in the fact that a young man has drowned himself in some remote spot of Lapland and that the victim, a Swedish policeman told him on the phone, is none other than his own son.
On the road, Ernest happens - quite against his misanthropic tendencies
to give a lift to Magnus, a hippy-like young man, also bound North.
From this moment on - although he does not know it yet - Ernest will never be the same again... Alternately realistic (what we see on the screen is grassroots Sweden, not a series of tourist sights), comical (the two men's misadventures with a group of aggressive bikers), philosophical (Magnus's grandfather's speech) and touching (Ernest's gradual coming to terms with his inner self; the grandfather's quiet desperation), Anna Novion's road movie goes its long (but not lengthy) way to a heartwarming finale. Psychologically accurate, "Rendez-vous à Kiruna" can also boast an interesting stylistic approach. You will not have failed to notice that Ernest's mental journey (his mind mellowing as the miles trickle away) takes place in the direction opposite to the physical one (the landscapes becoming barer and barer).
This is a serious movie indeed but Anna Novion doesn't mistake gravity for boredom: Arthur's defects are fun to watch ; so is his forced cohabitation with a young man, as cool as he is tense, as modest as he is conceited. She furthermore has a talent to find an unexpected or incongruous detail which appropriately lightens the atmosphere when things get too dramatic or too brain-racking.
As for the two lead actors, Jean-Pierre Darroussin (the ultimate grumpy one) and his Swedish counterpart Anastasios Soulis (a relaxed but far from superficial young man), they complement each other to perfection and carry the movie on their shoulders. They sure are instrumental in the success of "Rendez-vous à Kiruna"
So allow yourself to be tempted by this unconventional journey to the North of Sweden. You will not be disappointed. It is worth the mileage!
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