Review: La vie modern (2008)

La vie modern (2008)

Directed by: Raymond Depardon | 90 minutes | documentary

In a beautifully shot documentary, somewhat exaggerated with beautiful, supported music, we are presented with the painful demise of an age-old culture. A world that most people do not know, that is lagging behind, but is also beautiful, because of the impressive nature. The healthy outdoor life, oh la la, but that just doesn’t yield anything anymore. As hard as Raymond Depardon tries, his documentary is by no means ‘direct cinema’, as some call it. Because the camera not only records, the camera, and of course especially the person who operates it, manipulates in life.

Beautiful pictures are shown of this forgotten part of France, where people sometimes buy a second house for the summer, but where the youth have long left. Wrongly, the maker, who himself was once born in this region, will probably find. Because the images and the music beg us: see how beautiful this all is! Moreover, situations in the film are consciously created, such as the conversation between the two sulking brothers, who, thanks to the stubbornly questioning interviewer (Depardon himself), still talk about what they think of Alain’s new wife and how things are now. stand for. Depardon just doesn’t put things in their mouths, but regularly airs an opinion and asks almost only closed questions (which can only be answered with “yes” or “no”). The latter is sometimes not so strange, because some figures – such as that beautiful farmer’s son who did not want to become a farmer at all – prefer not to say much more than yes or no.

Still, it is nice to see how Depardon has won the trust of these closed and rigid people. It is inevitable that he really loves this country and is really concerned, as befits a real urbanized intellectual, that this peasant culture is coming to an end. They feel that and that’s why they trust him. But this didn’t happen overnight. It took Depardon years to gain this trust. He went to Villaret, a hamlet on the southern French highlands, where time seems to have stood still, to film and interview the old men and some other farmers and their families, and has already devoted two previous films to it (‘ Profils paysans: l’approche’ from 2000 and Profils paysans: le quotidien’ from 2005). In the previous film we see how Alain uses the internet to search for the woman with whom he is happily married in ‘La vie moderne’, much to the annoyance of his very old uncles.

All in all, Depardon’s colored approach works out well, because passion for these fascinating people and the impressive landscape not only opens the hearts of the characters involved in the documentary, but also ours. Through the romance and melancholy that drip from the images and the music, we too fall in love with that dying culture and especially with the beautiful landscape. Maybe next year also buy a house in the Cevennes…

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