By Hemanth Kissoon
Sharing similar themes to the truly amazing MARGARET, there is the exploration of the aftermath of death, a non-traditional family unit, an adolescent woman on the verge of adulthood, and expectations butting heads with harsh reality. Beginning straight away on Prudence (Lea Seydoux) accused of shoplifting along with another girl, whom we later find out is Maryline (Agathe Schlenker). The latter plants her stolen item on the former. In smooth shorthand their whole eventual relationship is summarised with that gesture. Maryline leaves with some bikers, and Prudence is immediately intrigued, tracks her down, and befriends; and by befriend, I mean asks to tag along with the illegal motorcycle racers she hangs out with, in exchange for free access to her apartment. A really quite melancholy situation exists for our titular heroine: her mother has only just passed away, the father is away in Canada, and the elder sister lives with her boyfriend. Prudence has to digest all this grief and burgeoning adulthood on her own, without emotional support and guidance. It is actually pretty heart breaking to watch.
The performances are gripping, and the debut direction assured from Rebecca Zlotowski. At the Q&A after the screening Zlotowski stated that the movie is based on a diary found in a home. This adds more weight and mystery to what we’ve just watched. The era of proceedings looks to be the 80s, with tape decks, the absence of mobiles, and finger dial house phone. Some say instant communication is isolating, but here is a demonstration how the internet and the ubiquity of telephones might reduce that, through being quickly contactable by those that purport to care. Prudence is quietly reckless with herself, which makes for a frustrating and engaging watch.