Premières solitudes [Young Solitude] (2018)

Premières solitudes
Director: Claire Simon
Writer: Claire Simon
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2018

Following a group of teenagers from the same school in the Parisian suburbs, Premières solitudes listens to their conversations, their reflections, their plans and doubts and dreams.

Teenagers can be the cutest, and Premières solitudes is a film that makes sure we don’t forget that fact. As much as I liked the individual teens, the film is at its strongest when it studies the structures that become apparent in their conversations.

The film poster showing drawings of groups of teenagers and their shadows.

I assume that Simon chose the class for this film more or less at random, not knowing herself the stories she would uncover. And there definitely are stories to uncover here, making her either very lucky or proving that there are interesting people everywhere, if you just take the time to listen. A bit of a pity, for me, was the fact that there were only two boys in the group and they never talked to each other, only to girls – I would have liked to hear what they talk about with each other as well.

The film opens up a space for the kids to talk and then it leans back and listens. The kids obviously take delight in the room they are afforded here. At times that makes it feel like they are trying hard to be especially smart or insightful with what they say or the questions they ask each other. This could have made the entire film feel a little artificial, but it comes with so much earnestness, it makes everything that much more endearing.

Three teenage girls talking.

But the film isn’t just cute, it’s also very revealing. When the kids talk about the lives they plan to have, their dreams are dominated by traditional ideas of what a family is and should be. At the same time, a whole lot of them, if not most, come from families that are far from that traditional ideal. Divorce obviously plays a big, burdensome part in their lives and there are so many absent parents, both literally and figuratively. In this juxtaposition, the chasm betwenn ideal and reality becomes undeniable.

Unfortunately the film didn’t quite find the right ending and the last ten minutes or so feel tacked on and didn’t want to fit with the film. Nevertheless, I absolutely enjoyed watching it and those kids.

Two teenage girls and a teenage boy talking.

Summarizing: Extremely nice.

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