Chante ton bac d'abord
- 1h 22min
This film tells the stormy tale of a group of friends from Boulogne-sur-Mer, a French town hit by the financial crisis. A year between dreams and disillusion, imagined by teenagers from a wo... Read allThis film tells the stormy tale of a group of friends from Boulogne-sur-Mer, a French town hit by the financial crisis. A year between dreams and disillusion, imagined by teenagers from a working or middle class background, with songs that regularly add poetry, laughter, and emot... Read allThis film tells the stormy tale of a group of friends from Boulogne-sur-Mer, a French town hit by the financial crisis. A year between dreams and disillusion, imagined by teenagers from a working or middle class background, with songs that regularly add poetry, laughter, and emotion to reality.
David André, its director, is an expert documentarist ("Armes de dérision massive: "Le Nouvel activisme américain" (2008), "La vie amoureuse des prêtres" (2012),...) and as such, his idea of following a group of students throughout their senior year will hardly surprise anyone. What is more original is the choice of Boulogne-sur-Mer as his place of investigation owing to the fact that the seaside town, once a thriving port, has been hit hard by the crisis, thus deteriorating into a zone where the prospects are anything but bright for the young. André could have been content to accompany a chosen sample of such students for nine months, from their first day back to school to their "bac" (secondary education final exam), along the lines of a pure documentary approach. But he wanted more: his chosen few were to comment on their daily experiences in filmed scenes of their lives combined with interviews of themselves and of their parents. Even more innovatory , he would ask his young 'heroes' to create songs (in partnership with the composer and himself) to sing them on the screen.
But, original and attractive as this idea might appear on paper, would it be possible to really get it off the ground ? Which of the 12th graders would be willing to confide their feelings before the director's camera considering that everybody would know everything about them once the film was shown? Which of them, supposing they accepted (they finally did after viewing a sample of David André's works), would keep the viewer interested for an hour and a half? The director naturally asked himself these questions but finally overcame his doubts and took the plunge. How right he was! How beautifully his bold move paid off! Successful in every category – psychological, sociological, documentary and musical – this 'documusical' is a genuine enchantment.
The first factor contributing to such an achievement is first and foremost the inspired choice of the main protagonists and their serious involvement in the project. The photogenic Gaëlle Bridoux is undoubtedly its leading figure insofar as not only is she refreshingly charming but she is also the only one having definite ideas about her future. Which does not mean that the others leave you indifferent. On the contrary, they are all interesting persons and even if they do not appear so as of the beginning, they each have their own engaging personalities. And they may be less determined than Gaëlle, but it may be their very insecurities which makes them touching. Rachel - the slender saturnine girl others misjudge as haughty, Alex – the punk- looking but adorable boy who takes all lightly, Caroline - the sensitive girl unsettled by the fact she may never be able to leave her narrow dreary environment, Nicolas - the handsome guy with a brain, a heart and... delicate nerves. You all get to know them intimately and when the film closes, you find it hard to have to leave them. Just the way they do knowing that after their finals, their group will be separated and nothing will be the same again.
The other strong point is the social aspect. Through the individual cases described above, the director takes stock of today's problems in a place particularly stricken by deindustalization and its corollaries, decline, unemployment, poverty and loss of bearings. An agenda that would be hard to swallow if the film was made in the mere tone of statement but which is made much more palatable by the empathy for the characters the viewer become closer and closer to. A prodigy Ken Loach ("Raining Stones", "The Navigators", "I, Daniel Blake) usually achieves in the same way, with humor instead of songs
In the final analysis, David André has more than won his bet – a bet that looked almost impossible to win. But magically (or rather through a cocktail of passion, talent and perseverance), he managed to make this 'impossible object' possible. An amazing and unique work where opposites meet like they rarely do elsewhere: realism and poetry, journalism and music, Jacques Demy and Ken Loach. Highly recommended for all.
- Sep 29, 2017