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FILMS / REVIEWS France / Belgium

Review: Ballsy Girl

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- Intended to be the big French comedy of the spring, the funny and very slickly directed film by Katia Lewkowicz is available now on Amazon Prime France

Review: Ballsy Girl
Melha Bedia and Valérie Lemercier in Ballsy Girl

Ballsy Girl [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
was meant to be the big French comedy of the spring, but its scheduled theatrical release across more than 300 screens all over the country from 18 March onwards had to be put on hold owing to the extraordinary circumstances linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sudden closure of the cinemas left the producers with very few options: Nicolas Duval (of Quad Production), in association with distribution company UGC and sales agent TF1 Studio, finally opted for an exclusive release on Amazon Prime Video – a first in France (read the news). It’s an extraordinary case for such extraordinary circumstances. Since its selection for the Alpe d’Huez International Comedy Film Festival in January, Ballsy Girl has been able to benefit from a solid promotional campaign lasting several weeks, which has successfully been stoking the expectations of the general public right up to its online release date. It’s certainly been enough to attract internet users to the platform in their droves.

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The feature’s director, Katia Lewkowicz, is a stalwart of mainstream movies and regularly works with the big names of French cinema. This French-Israeli actress (who appeared in I Do: How to Get Married and Stay Single [+see also:
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by Éric Lartigau, Secrets of State [+see also:
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by Philippe Haïm and the anthology film The Players [+see also:
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) made the leap to directing in 2011 with Bachelor Days Are Over [+see also:
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interview: Katia Lewkowicz
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, which sported an array of stars, including Benjamin Biolay, Emmanuelle Devos and Nicole Garcia. Two years later, Lewkowicz had another go, this time flanked by Marina Foïs, Noémie Lvovsky and Laura Smet, with French Dolls [+see also:
trailer
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]
, which portrays the feeling of guilt that certain women inflict upon themselves every day. While this social comedy condemning common sexism didn’t really find its audience at the time, it did establish the voice of Katia Lewkowicz, a member of the 50/50 Collective, as one of the female French directors to keep a close eye on.

With her third feature, Lewkowicz reasserts her fascination for popular actresses (in this case, Valérie Lemercier). But this time around, Ballsy Girl proves above all to be an occasion to celebrate female comedians: Alison Wheeler, of course (Going to Brazil [+see also:
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, Loue-moi!, Gaston Lagaffe
 [+see also:
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), and especially Melha Bedia, who, after having made several appearances in various films (Pattaya [+see also:
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, Owl You Need Is Love [+see also:
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and Bad Buzz [+see also:
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]
), bags her first major role here. Bedia herself also took part in writing the screenplay, together with Frédéric Hazan. The dialogue, reworked by Katia Lewkowicz and Anthony Marciano (the director of Play [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
), really hits the mark and ends up constituting much of Ballsy Girl’s main appeal.

Stepping into the shoes of a rather rotund young woman who works as an accountant, and who is both anti-feminine par excellence and totally mad on football, Melha Bedia revisits a range of subjects that she has explored many times before in her comedy and stand-up shows: the social pressure linked to one’s physical appearance, being overweight, attractiveness, and indeed many other topics that she navigates with ease. Fed up with her interminable spinsterhood, Nour takes decisive action. She decides to take ownership of her body again and to stop adhering to the norms imposed upon her. More determined than ever, she signs up for pole-dancing classes given by Sissi (Valérie Lemercier), who, in contrast, is the epitome of femininity, with her fairy-tale-like locks of hair and her impossibly long fingernails.

Funny and very slickly directed, this waltz between archetypes pushed to their very limits is sometimes lacking in subtlety. The message being conveyed – reclaiming one’s own version of femininity, rather than a form of femininity conceived for the masses, imposed by the constraints of society – is occasionally at risk of falling flat. But the movie is constantly resuscitated by its delightful energy: with its parade of successfully sketched-out characters, Ballsy Girl paints a generational portrait of drifting thirty-somethings that is both comical and rousing in equal measure. By playing the self-deprecation card (with panache), Melha Bedia really moves the viewer and plays a large part in elevating this French comedy to a higher level.

Ballsy Girl was produced by Quad and TF1 Studio, and was co-produced by France 2 Cinéma, La Compagnie Cinématographique and Belgium's Panache Productions, and it is sold internationally by TF1 Studio.

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(Translated from French)

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