COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 35 min (French with subtitles)
STARRING:Blanche Gardin, Laurent Lafitte, Maxence Tual
Shades of blue: Gardin
Jeanne Mayer (Gardin) is everything on the outside that her needling inner voice repeatedly assures her she is not. Poised and assured, the media-touted 37-year-old is a crusader at the cutting edge of environmental research, until, on its maiden outing, her underwater microplastic-collecting gizmo sinks into the sea.
Jeanne’s witchy inner takedown artist — an animated, shapeshifting, mop-like creature drawn in dramatic black-and-white by first-time feature-film writer-director Céline Devaux — isn’t the least bit surprised. This attitude, as per, is not helpful, especially given that Jeanne is now staring down the cold, dead gaze of bankruptcy and must fly to Lisbon to sell the apartment left to her and her obliging brother, Simon (Tual), by their suicidal late mother.
The last person she needs on her radar is the large, unruly man who spots her at the airport. Jean (Lafitte) is a light-fingered fellow alumni from Lisbon’s French high school, whom the distracted Jeanne fails to remember. It’s further not helpful that the Lisbon apartment is a cluttered shrine to the past. Mocked by her cartoon mop and haunted by grief-induced hallucinations of her mother, Jeanne is immobilised by the scope of the clean-out. It’s just as well, then, that Jean is still on the scene: having spent time in its dark space himself, he can sense Jeanne’s depression.
Although billed as a comic drama, Devaux’s unfussy mapping of a fractured mental state can sometimes feel as discordant as Jeanne’s perspective, with the sunny ease of Lisbon and its people triggers for a disordered psyche at striking variance with her flattened affect. Instability is no laughing matter, however quirkily it manifests. Charting a calibrated course, Gardin wears sad alienation well, making her way, like the pained Jennifer Aniston she vaguely resembles, through what will come to be the small mercies of a minor key.