french films > The Year After

The Year After

The Year After

cast: Ariane Ascaride, Anaïs Demoustier, Patrick Catalifo

year: 2006

colour: yes

certificate:

director: Isabelle Czajka

runtime: 91

Don't be fooled by the bucolic opening shot - Isabelle Czajka's extraordinary film is a coming-of-age drama with a biting difference. Anaïs Demoustier plays teenaged Manu, whose life starts to change after her father dies. While the drama of her everyday life continues - a new friendship, a venture into amateur theatricals, a crush on an English teacher - Manu's mother (Ascaride) makes her own plans, planning a move behind Manu's back and taking up with a smoothie estate agent. Set largely in the suburbs around Paris's Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport - a bland, brand-heavy IKEA-land - Czajka's tender drama is at once a sensitive psychological character piece and an acute critique of French bourgeois culture, a study of consumerist soul-death that belongs in the dissident continuum stretching from Flaubert to Houellebecq. A rigorous, intelligent film that thrives on gaps, obliqueness and understatement, this is an emotionally devastating debut from Czajka, and a chilling report on the state of a Europe where lifestyle has supplanted living.

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