Review: Jeune Femme (2017)

Jeune Femme (2017)

Directed by: Leonor Serraille | 97 minutes | drama | Actors: Laetitia Dosch, Souleymane Seye Ndiaye, Grégoire Monsaingeon, Jean-Christophe Folly, Nathalie Richard, Marie Rémond, Léonie Simaga, Lou Valentini, Lila-Rose Gilberti, Emma Benestan, Erika Sainte

If there’s one thing ‘Jeune femme’ teaches us, it’s that first impressions don’t have to be the best. We get to know the titular protagonist, Paula Simonian, when she is screaming and pounding on an apartment door. When that has no effect, she bangs the door with her head. The door wins.

At the medical worker where she ends up with her head wound, her tirade continues. Paula is completely absorbed in her story and immediately exposes half of her life history. But just as easily she changes the subject, noting casually, “Gosh, it’s still raining.”

Paula, 31 years, pleasant. Long red hair, two differently colored eyes. And yet not so striking that people remember her, as it turns out at a party. After a ten-year relationship, her older boyfriend, with whom she lived in Mexico, kicked her out and now Paula is alone in Paris. No work, no income, no shelter, no family. The only friends she has left and whom she can go to on the first night, she manages to antagonize herself with a nasty remark. And so she is back on the street.

This feature debut by Léonor Serraille, born in 1986, is brimming with energy. With the convincing acting Laetitia Dosch (who is sometimes reminiscent of a younger Toni Collette) she has gold in her hands. The actress is simply a sensation, from whom you can not take your eyes off. Dosch’ Paula is irritating, brash, often unkind and untrustworthy, but at the same time so vulnerable and brimming with optimism that you start to care about her anyway. In addition, she is also just very funny, like during her job interview for a job as a lingerie saleswoman.

‘Jeune femme’ is an excellent character study of an insecure thirty-something. It is such an age where one person already has everything ready, house-tree-beast and maybe even child(ren), but just as many contemporaries are still looking for solid ground under their feet, or are not even aware of what ground they are yet. want to feel. Paula falls into the latter category, but increasingly takes control of her life during the film. The fact that she was not given that chance earlier is not so much due to her as to the circumstances, which gradually unfold in realistic dialogues.

The fact that Paris is not shown from the romantic or touristic side for once is also a plus of ‘Jeune femme’. Gray metro stations, unfriendly-looking hotels and rain-soaked streets; no wonder Paula hates the French capital. The beautiful visuals are mainly in the use of color, the chosen camera angles and the production design. And don’t forget the extremely photogenic cat. A fantastic debut with which Serraille puts herself and her lead actress on the map and undoubtedly opens doors to promising projects. The director rightly won the Camera d’Or in Cannes with this.

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