Jeune femme [Montparnasse Bienvenüe] (2017)

Jeune femme
Director: Léonor Serraille
Writer: Léonor Serraille, Clémence Carré, Bastien Daret
Cast: Laetitia Dosch, Souleymane Seye Ndiaye, Grégoire Monsaingeon, Jean-Christophe Folly, Nathalie Richard
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 28.10.2017

Paula (Laetitia Dosch) just broke up with her much older boyfriend Joachim (Grégoire Monsaingeon). Or rather, he left her for an even younger woman. Now all she has to show for the last few years is the cat she took from her ex. But Paula is willing to start over – at any price. First, she finds a place to stay by starting to work as a nanny – a job she only gets by lying. But with that as a starting point, Paula is ready to figure things out.

At the beginning of Jeune femme, I thought that the film would be rather exhausting because I found Paula so exhausting. But as Paula is allowed to grow as a person, she and the film both grew on me.

At the beginning of the film, the story is all about how the break-up pretty much destroys Paula. But just short of tumbling all the way into psychosis, she manages to pull herself back – and togehter. That is not only important for her as a character, but it’s also important for the audience: that way, I didn’t get annoyed by Paula but enjoyed watching her grow up into an almost mature person.

It’s also important to me as a feminist that this means that the story told is not about a woman not being able to handle being left by a man, but turns into a story of a woman who – finally free of the burden of a crappy relationship – is able to reinvent herself.

That she would be able to achieve this growth and transformation as much on her own and practically without any support as is shown in the film, is pretty much entirely unrealistic, but I didn’t mind – I’d rather see an unrealistic story about a woman achieving things than a more realistic one where she fails.

The film might be a little uneven in tone and at times, I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry or to cringe. But grounded in a great performance by Laetitia Dosch, whatever the reaction, the events were always worth reacting to.

Summarizing: A little bumpy, but good, especially for a first feature.

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