Directed by: Sara Forestier | 100 minutes | drama | Actors: Sara Forestier, Redouanne Harjane, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Liv Andren, Nicolas Vaude, Djura, Guillaume Verdier, Rania, Maryne Cayon, Sébastien Rocca, Isabelle Caillat, Frédéric Moulin
The starting situation of ‘M’ is challenging. Lila, a Bambi-eyed girl with a stuttering problem in the Parisian banlieue, begins a love affair with illiterate Mo, a tough kid involved in illegal street racing. How would you handle that, maybe a silent movie? Because the body language of the two surprising lovers is mostly non-verbal? Not necesarry. Show, don’t tell. Like in real life. A little pace is welcome.
‘M’ has a patronizing narrative structure towards the viewer. No, no voice-over, but long scenes, in which the world of the stuttering Lila and Mo’s supercooled aggression are extensively shown to the viewer. Nice atmospheric drawing, that is, based on good cinematography. Adequate acting also by director Sara Forestier (Lila) and Redouanne Harjane (Mo), but somehow their being together is too imposed and the form of dialogue too studied. Forestier also has a lot to do with this film, especially to paint a picture of life in the northern suburbs of Paris, around those dingy white flats you may have seen as you approach the city from Charles de Gaulle airport.
Flats that look so beautiful in the summer sun from the highway. Mo doesn’t even live there, but in an old double-decker bus on a vacant lot. That choice does the film well, because the admittedly sympathetic love story is too meager. Forestier focuses on the little things of the day, family situations like Mo helping Lila’s sister with homework, and seeing the learning situation turn around in the blink of an eye – a harrowing realization. This is not the reality from above as we see it in the news, but living together at eye level, as the residents of such neighborhoods try to do. Forestier is good at that, although she is still too eager to explain and must dare to trust the power of her images. There is every reason to.