Luna: "You choose, if you leave, you're not coming back"
by Fabien Lemercier
- Elsa Diringer directs realistic debut feature film about a 16-year-old girl trying to free herself from the mistakes of her past
"What time is my abortion on Wednesday, mum?" It's in the misdemeanours and chaos of adolescence, and the often blind stumble through drunkenness and feelings – striking at the heart of the harmful power of the collective over the individual – that Elsa Diringer choose to immerse her debut feature film, Luna [+see also:
film profile], screened in competition at the 39th Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival. A film in which the director captures the beautiful and accurate qualities of reality when building the energetic portrait of a 16-year-old girl immersed in the macho culture of urban suburban south-west France, just a stone’s throw away from the nearby countryside. A contrast that we also see between the two boys that Luna falls in love with, as well as one that emerges between two very different futures available to her. But before Luna can make any decisions, she must first take a look in the mirror and face the consequences of her actions.
In a skimpy top and tight shorts, Luna (Laetitia Clement) flees from everyone she knows, escaping deep into the countryside, setting off on her friend Chloé's (Lina Khoudri) scooter. The two girls belong to a small group of young people led by Ruben (Julien Bodet), a handsome muscular guy who gets Luna pregnant before promising to go with her to the clinic where she’s due to have an abortion a few days later. But the group turns violent during a boozy party in an isolated shed when they heckle, and then launch a surprise attack on a graffiti artist with a bottle, who they perceive to have trespassed on ‘their’ territory. An event that will have immediate consequences for Luna as the victim, Alex (Rod Paradot), soon shows up to work at the greenhouse and in the fields (she has just completed an NVQ in horticulture), without seeming to recognise her. Initially trying to distance herself under pressure from the group, Luna gradually takes a liking to Alex, but the secret and guilt take hold of her and Ruben (who she is no longer with) and the others begin to cast a shadow…
Diringer injects empathy into her character, stumbling through existence, like a puppy wanting open air and love while her master keeps her locked up, ignoring her, except when teaching her how to fight. Luna proves much more than a simple variation of a social film about a "classic" teenager. Balancing the tempos and climates of the various episodes of the plot carefully (which is sometimes slightly predictable), Elsa Diringer excels at giving her protagonists identities and a certain veracity (the young actors are well supported by the experienced Juliette Arnaud and Frederic Pierrot). And even though the film has its minor imperfections, it gives us an honest insight into reality and has an undeniable gift for depicting emotions, as well as Luna's dilly-dallying.
(Translated from French)
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