The “Restless” portrayed in the title of a recent play by Belgian director Joachim Lafosse can refer to multiple characters. At the same time – as does the film itself, which depicts pain. And sometimes painful detail how the human personality is temporary, the multifaceted structure of which is impossible. To fully understand. The best we can do is do it.
Several directors in the final film deal with anxiety, worry and more adverse psychological conditions:
With the precision of Lagos, whose 2004 debut was titled “Personal Insanity”. And whose ninth film focuses on a French family. Of three living under the severity of mental illness. From dad.
The chance to host Damien Bonnard and Leila Behti’s tournament. This tense yet incredibly soft two-handed film is the first Lagos film. To set Cannes’ main event and give it the more attention it deserves.
The opening scene on the Côte d’Azur beach creates an atmosphere of tension between happiness and horror that will permeate the entire film. Damien (Bonnard), his partner Leïla (Bekhti) – the name of the character is the same as the names of the actors, lift the barrier between actor and actor – and their son Amine (Gabriel Merz Chammah, grandson of Isabelle Huppert) active summer vacation, with a neat Instagram bay.
When Damien went swimming and didn’t return for several hours, it seemed like a tragedy had occurred. And then suddenly, he looks like nothing’s wrong, even though we realize there’s something wrong with him.
The feeling of fear rose from the small waves in the tsunami.
When Damien could no longer sleep or standstill, the nervous antics and bursts of energy during the holidays turned into a miserable force. If he ran to the bathroom to drink cocaine every five minutes, his behaviour might be understandable. But the problem appears to be internal – even though Lagos only provides a brief diagnosis on the final act.
After Damien is hospitalized, the narrative ellipse takes us to the fall or maybe later, where we take the family to their cosy home. Damien continues his work as a successful artist, painting abstract figures and still life on large canvases, and Layla runs her business restoring antique furniture.
This is a couple who love to use their hands, appreciate 80s craft and cheese songs, and Lagos takes the time to paint a home full of passion and warmth, both personally and professionally.
But Damien’s illness was never far away. In fact, despite the strong prescription for lithium and constant monitoring of Leïla’s behaviour, it never went away. We also always watch Damien – both the actor and the character – looking for signs that he is breaking up.
To Laphos’ credit, the character’s indecisive state of mind is so subtle:
That it’s hard to tell whether Damien was just excited about a new painting or a trip to the lake with his son or just lost. Sometimes movies wonder if there is a difference between the two. Or to quote Psycho, “We all get a little crazy sometimes,” which is another way of saying that insanity is a part of life.
But Damien’s clinical insanity is too great to handle – especially for Layla. Who, in the course of the film, transforms from a loving couple to a woman who is always on the lookout and defends Amin from her father’s uncontrollable mood swings.
His first and only concern is keeping everyone in the house safe, and it costs so much that he builds an impenetrable emotional force field around him.
The mental tension peaks about halfway through the film. And ends in a suspense-filled driving sequence brilliant in its simplicity. Like Damien, Amin’s leading school scene, it should be. It becomes something Hitchcock is genuinely a thing. Lagos handles tension like a skilled anesthesiologist.
Who knows precisely what dose to give. By keeping us on the edge of the chair. But never resorting to cheap tricks or impossible twists. It’s tense and painful because it all feels so real.
Likewise, the actor never overdoes the role and offers plenty of opportunities for glamour. Especially when Damien isn’t working, and Layla is controlling the damage.