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François Dupeyron's most famous movie is "La Chambre Des Officiers":Whereas war movies have often displayed maimed soldiers,they have rarely (if they have)shown disfigured fighters.
Like his critically-acclaimed (and most successful film at the box office) work,"Mon Ame Par Toi Guérie" depicts living on the fringes of society : people in their mobile homes ,often on the dole ,whose only solace is fishing (for the father) or exchanging blue jokes with his pals in the bistro (the son).It did poorly at the box office (about 120,000 tickets when released) ,in spite of four nominations( no awards though).
A guy ,whose mom has just died,is told by his dad that her gift (she was a healer)has been passed down to him.This is a very interesting subject ,already treated by Yves Ciampi ("Le Guérisseur",1953) ,as a maudlin melodrama which failed totally to convince.
We will never know whether Fredi is a real healer or a quack;but it does not really matter;the subject of the movie is not "does he heal the sick" but "can Frédi heal his soul?" (check the title).
The first part of the movie is often moving , though sprawling: Fredi does not care about his so called gift till one night when he knocks down a little boy on his motorcycle :a dramatic conversation with the distraught mother makes him change his mind:"why ,says she,is God so cruel?why does HE put me to the test?Does it make sense anyway?"
Fredi got a raw deal: epileptic fits ,a daughter who sees her parents constantly tearing each other apart,no steady job,people interested in him only when they can use him (see the scene at the pool),a tired disenchanted father (Darroussin is ,as usual, excellent)
"Trust yourself" he tells a patient ,but in the back of his mind,he thinks ("but myself ,have I ever trusted myself?);since the accident ,he is haunted at night by a recurrent dream:"heaven looks at me,I'm afraid ,my father wants to hide me in a cave" -biblical reminiscences-;these gripping dreamlike scenes are filmed in black and white.
It is probably purely subjective ,but I do think that the movie loses steam halfway through;Gregory Gadebois gives a restrained performance ,sometimes injecting more real emotion into his lines than you might think possible ;sadly ,Celine Sallette's portrayal of an alcoholic woman is so amateurish it gets in the way and makes Fredi's "redemption" almost implausible.
Another flaw:why do they always use songs in English in FRENCH movies ?these tracks,now bluesy ,now folk ,do not suit the movie at all;François Dupeyron is not the only self-indulgent French director who succumbs to this trendy vice.
Watch it anyway:the wonderful chemistry between the two male leads ,the depiction of a not so rosy world in the splendid landscapes of French Riviera make it all worthwhile.
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