Review: Little Tickles
by Fabien Lemercier
- CANNES 2018: An original angle on the issue of adult trauma following sexual assault during childhood in a somewhat problematic film directed by Andréa Bescond and Eric Metayer
After great success in theatres in France, Little Tickles [+see also:
film profile], by Andréa Bescond and Eric Metayer, took a leap of faith towards a film adaptation, a daring gamble that was not a huge success when it premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 71st Cannes Film Festival. A difficult reception linked to a clash between the film’s subject matter (a dancer struggles to get rid of the demons of her childhood – sexual abuse committed by a family friend from the age of eight) and its form (an incessant back and forth between the protagonist's adult life and the traumatic period, with imagined versions of what might have happened, all through the prism of psychotherapy sessions).
The excessive stylisation of a production that is far removed from the canons of arthouse film present on the Croisette – obviously designed to try to appeal to the largest audience possible regarding its subject matter (the devastating effects of paedophilic manipulation on a victim’s personality) – resulted in viewers fleeing the screening at first glance and involves a good dose of tolerance before its positive effects are felt. Yet the story itself is dramatic and is by no means a casual treatment of the subject matter.
Odette is just eight years old when Gilbert (Pierre Deladonchamps), a married man and father of three children, begins an ignoble game that he will quietly pursue for many years, in the most perfect impunity, taking advantage of his control on the little girl and the credulity of her parents (Karin Viard and Clovis Cornillac), who are very close family friends. An infernal circle that Odette hopes to escape by going to Paris to study at the National Dance Conservatory, but that will ultimately continue until she grows up and her predator loses interest, and which she will keep an absolute secret for a very long time. A silence that will not be without its repercussions for the woman and professional dancer (Andréa Bescond herself), which manifest themselves in her addictive behaviour, eruptive violence, attempts at escapism on foreign tours and her deep discomfort that the words might gradually slip out to the point of revealing the truth to her parents and causing her to confront her former torturer.
Punctuated with solo or group dance scenes, psychotherapy sessions (Carole Franck), a romantic encounter with an osteopath (Gregory Montel) and Parisian trips with her childhood friend turned dealer (Gringe) Little Tickles suffers a little from the excessive use of effects in the visual package of a formatted product. However, those who do choose to battle through may be touched by some of its more poignant moments and the wild energy of its director-performer.
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