Champs-Elysées Film Festival: Rodeo, the battle of riding [critique]

Baptized at the Cannes Film Festival with a controversy in the key, this sensual and nervous film resurfaces at the Champs-Elysées Film Festival. Critical.

Here it is again Rodeo, after the Cannes fire where the film had raised a storm in a rancid glass. Thus freed from the tinsel that saw it appear with great fanfare with social networks and C-News in stupid echo chambers, it is good to find it for what it really is: a good film, inspired, sensual, nervous, which plunges the spectator into a bath that he has, a priori, never tasted. Or how Julia (the revelation Julie Ledru), a young woman keen on two wheels, will join a gang of bikers adept at cross-bitumen (extreme motorized sport) and find meaning in an existence without perspective. On Kombini in Croisette mode, the director Lola Quivoron, ad hoc dark glasses, explained about the cross-bitumen that: “ … the practice is criminalized to death, it is illegal, because there have been accidents…” Before adding: “… But the accidents are often caused by the cops, who chase and create a form of precariousness that pushes the riders towards death… This is where the shoe pinched… Is it this quarterback “fault” that earned Rodeo the favorite of the jury ofIn some perspective in the absence of a Grand Prix which seemed to him promised? We dare not believe it.

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underground life

If we put that back on the carpet, it’s because Lola Quivoron’s film provides an interesting reading in reverse. The film opens more or less with a magnificent Mad Max-style motorized ballet. We immediately foresee what the cinema will allow here: to reveal the intriguing and sulphurous beauty of a man-machine fusion. Fusion becoming an object of excitement that the film will perhaps titillate. But Julia will barely have time to cross this roller mirror when the irruption of the police causes a hasty evacuation and soon the death of a young rider.

Lola Quivoron masters her subject and her representation. The important thing is not so much to stage the spectacle of a supposed blunder (everything remains offscreen), as toisir its sad end. The circumstances that saw the death of their boyfriend will also not really discussed within the community. The unfortunate once buried, will see his face appear on the bow of the motorcycles as a tribute before disappearing completely. Sad fatality of an extreme mode of existence. Underground life immediately resumes its immutable course. For Julia, on the other hand, the deceased will remain a ghost-like angel who will appear cyclically in her nightmares.

The film gradually abandons the adrenaline of riding to enter a film noir. Behind the scenes of the cross bitumen would actually house an even more clandestine world made of traffic with a jailbird as a godfather. On this account, it is the followers of this practice who could take a dim view of this “incriminating” portrait.


Except that Rodeo is an immersive story with claimed subjectivity, the documentary part remains on the periphery. Julia integrates this world and grants it to her desires. It’s a real takeover of the story. Everything exudes and exults with her. Julia, a warm-blooded animal, does not tame her machine to attempt improbable tricks making her the ace of the gang, she is the machine itself. Its body by a fluid mechanics, redefines the contours of space (effect Titanium). From then on, when the filmmaker approaches too closely the shores of social realism, the film immediately loses intensity. Rodeo remains a tightrope walker’s film around a bitumen buccaneer, a clear-eyed amazon… The (super-) heroine advances from airlock to airlock, not to claim the right to live, but the right to be reborn, finally.

Rodeo. By Lola Quivoron. With: Julie Ledru, Yanis Lafki, Antonia Buresi… Dist. Diamond Films. Duration: 1h45. Released in theaters September 7.

Screened at the Champs-Elysées Film Festival: Thursday 23/06 at 6:30 p.m. (Cinéma Le Lincoln) and Saturday 25/06 (Cinéma Le Balzac)

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