Peur de rien
Director: Danielle Arbid
Writer: Danielle Arbid, Julie Peyr
Cast: Manal Issa, Paul Hamy, Damien Chapelle, Vincent Lacoste, Dominique Blanc, Clara Ponsot
Part of: Scope100 (last year, I participated in the Scope50 project)
Seen on: 4.1.2016
Lina (Manal Issa) comes to Paris from Lebanon to study. She is supposed to stay with her aunt and her husband but just before the semester actually starts, her uncle comes on to her. Lina runs away in shock. Without money, a place to stay or much idea about life in Paris, she sets out to build herself a life, with any means necessary.
Peur de Rien tells an interesting story and it tells it well, with one of the most fascinating and intriguing protagonists I’ve seen in a while. Every once in a while it strays a little too much and could have been more concise, but altogether, I really enjoyed it.
Usually when we get a character like Lina, she is shown as a manipulating bitch who uses everyone around her to her own advantage and doesn’t give a fuck about anyone but herself. Arbid decided to draw Lina differently: by showing from where she started and by sticking with her through the entire story, suddenly the apparently cold manipulation becomes a mix of naivité and calculation, of survival instinct, lack of choice and drive. In that sense, Lina is as revolutionary a character as Gone Girl‘s Amy, even though in a very different way.
It’s almost insulting to say that Manal Issa played the role well. It doesn’t feel like she plays at all, she inhabits Lina with so much ease which gets even more impressive considering that she doesn’t appear to have a whole lot of acting experience. Watching her peeling away layers in her performance, while at the same time Lina is building up walls is astounding. And underneath it all there is always a hunger for a better life and a better world that becomes absolutely palpable.
And that hunger is ultimately what this story is about. It’s not about judging Lina (thank goodness for that) or moralizing at all. It’s a film about a young person who was promised a better life, but she soon realizes that she has to fight every step of the way for it. As such, it is an incredibly current film if we look at the situation with the refugees in Europe at the moment, despite taking place in the 90s. It’s a film that can manage to humanize those people who come here and who are often seen as selfish.
Every once in a while the film could have done with a little more cutting, but that is a small complaint for such an engaging, thoughtful and otherwise well-made film.