Review: Forever Young
- CANNES 2022: Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi delivers a beautifully mature work, diving back into the vibrant and initiatory, young universe of student-actors at Patrice Chéreau’s Théâtre des Amandiers
"We go in through this little door and try to put our costumes on: we try to act because that’s what we do best, and we try to act the best that we can". With her new directorial effort Forever Young [+see also:
interview: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi
film profile], presented in competition at the 75th Cannes Film Festival, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi steps through the looking glass - absent, for the first time, from the cast of one of her feature films - to revisit, in fiction form, the journey she and her 11 fellow classmates embarked upon in the mid-80s, at the school attached to the Théâtre des Amandiers which was directed by Pierre Romans (Micha Lescot) under the aegis of the legendary Patrice Chéreau (Louis Garrel). "As before and never as before", this leap backwards in time, where imagination begins to dialogue with the ghosts of the past, works especially well for the director, who injects into her ensemble film all the vibrant energy and overflow of feelings that we experience when we’re 20 and which are stirred up by and emmeshed with the passion and total dedication required to embrace an acting career.
The tone is set from the start: a wild embrace verging on shamelessness, on which time is called by an amused jury overseeing pre-selection auditions to attend the course offered by the Amandiers theatre in Nanterre. It’s an opportunity to make the acquaintance of the film’s main characters (which art historians will have fun matching to their real-life counterparts): the overly emotional Stella (the great acting revelation Nadia Tereszkiewicz) who hails from the upper-most middle classes (she even has a butler at home), Étienne (the handsomely sombre Sofiane Bennacer), a tormented soul with a flair for suicidal monologues ("smashing windowpanes and jumping out of the window just to touch one soul"), Adèle (Clara Bretheau), who was born into the profession (for whom others’ words are like ramparts holding her back from the abyss) and penniless Franck (Noham Edje) who’s already married at 19 years of age. They’re pivotal to the story, four of 40 students taking part in the course and among 12 individuals who are eventually selected for this school like no other, where people are looking for anything but know-how and where the stage takes over life and life the stage.
From a visit to the no less legendary New York Actors Studio ("become a physical or an emotional feeling which you’re familiar with") to preparing alongside the master himself, Patrice Chéréau ("every idea should be an event"), for Tchekhov’s play Platonov, the film is wonderful in its portrayal (based on a no-frills screenplay penned by the filmmaker alongside Noémie Lvovsky and Agnès de Sacy, and adorned with photography courtesy of Julien Poupard) of the small troupe’s electrifying day-to-day life as they experience love, the cruelty of the profession, hard drugs, angst over AIDS, the obsession with fleeting youth and the desire to take life by the horns to the point of burning one’s wings. But whatever happens, as long as you’re alive you have to take to the stage.
(Translated from French)
Photogallery 22/05/2022: Cannes 2022 - Forever Young
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