Directed by: Delphine Coulin, Muriel Coulin | 102 minutes | drama | Actors: Soko, Ariane Labed, Ginger Romàn, Karim Leklou, Andreas Konstantinou, Makis Papadimitriou, Alexis Manenti, Robin Barde, Sylvain Loreau, Jérémie Laheurte, Damien Bonnard, Jean-Yves Jouannais, Pierre Devérines
Free three days to a five-star hotel in summery Cyprus? Sounds like the top prize of a lottery right? But for French friends Aurore and Marine, this trip means an obligatory stopover on the way home, after serving as a soldier in Afghanistan for a few years. In Cyprus, their platoon has to participate in something called decompression. That means swimming, exercising, lounging, dancing, drinking and flirting. But collective therapy and compulsory meditation are also on the program.
“Voir du pays” is not the first film to deal with the trauma of the returning soldier. In a masterpiece like “In the Valley of Elah” it is the main motif, in classics like “The Deer Hunter” and “The Hurt Locker” it is an important motif. Can a filmmaker add something original to this?
By focusing on the girls in the peloton and the measured time frame, “Voir du pays” at least has an original angle. The effect is less original. You can see from miles away that the military and the native Cypriots are about to clash. The combination of pent-up fear and aggression that can hardly be kept in check produces scenes that we have seen before. The fact that the platoon is hiding a secret and that the male soldiers will become jealous of the Cypriot Don Juans is just as predictable as that the girlfriends will eventually get muted.
This succession of predictable scenes gives “Voir du pays” something artificial. As if the videographers are completing a list of mandatory scenes. This is reinforced by the equally contrived dialogues. Sometimes they are cliché, sometimes they are of the unnatural kind, where the soldiers tell each other things they have been through together (so that the viewer understands better). The emotional monologues during the daily therapy session are successful.
All this certainly does not make “Voir du pays” a failure. The focus on female soldiers is refreshing, the depiction of the mandatory decompression is also something you don’t see every day. Moreover, with Ariane Labed we have a fine actress in house who controls the entire spectrum of emotions. A nice film that should have been a hit.