My Name is Hmmm...: choosing silence
by Bénédicte Prot
- This century’s creator, agnès b, already a producer, steps behind the camera for the first time and delivers a film with a powerful theme, carried by a remarkable actress
The first film by Agnès Troublé (aka agnès b), My Name is Hmmm... [+see also:
film profile], presented in the Orizzonti section of the Venice Mostra, is a calmly moving film which tackles a very delicate topic with healthy modesty in the shape of ellipses rendered to silence.
The central place of the theme of silence in announced in the title, which makes use of the words of the young heroine, Céline (incredibly played by Lou-Lélia Demerliac, who also benefits from sharing very similar traits with the actress who plays her mother, Sylvie Testud), when she decides to run away because she cannot stand to fill the void left by her mother, the only one of her parents who works, by cooking for her younger siblings and helping them with their homework before “going upstairs” with her lazy father and making the least amount of noise as he sits her on his lap, for the most awful of reasons.
Céline is about 10 years old and she carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. So, during a school trip to the beach, she hides in a coloured truck belonging to a Scottish truck driver (Douglas Gordon), a kind bear who has lost everything in life and knows to respect the girl’s choice not to reveal her name. He escapes with her, and shares with this child this nearly magical and careless interlude in both their tormented lives – pains they confess to each other, thanks to the tacit complicity they feel from the start, with a brutal effectiveness which is to be credited to the novice director.
Despite a few faux pas (the small notes in the agnès b style calligraphy that sporadically appear on the screen, the slightly simplistic presentation of the context, as if it could be summarized by the fact that the father does not have a job...), the choice of Agnès Troublé to focus on Céline and the different aspects of her silence (even if it means silencing the rest) respectfully and subtly hit the spot. To the burden that is her impossibility to speak at the beginning of the film (to avoid disturbing the family balance, destroying her loving but overwhelmed mother and losing her father forever...), she adds a voluntary silence, which needs to be respected, because it is not the result of submission. From a weight, it becomes a choice. It is the result of the mature decision (well beyond her years) of a young girl who wants to get her childhood back.
My Name is Hmmm... was coproduced by Troublé’s company, Love Streams, which already produced amongst others the excellent Des jeunes gens mödernes [+see also:
film profile] and coproduced another title presented on the Lido, The Good Life [+see also:
interview: Jean Denizot
film profile] by Jean Denizot.
(Translated from French)
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