During his lifetime: Imperial Benoît Magimel [critique]

Emmanuelle Bercot films death in the face using a staging both inspired and encumbered by itself.

Looking death in the face, a vast program that Emmanuelle Bercot is working on here (Heads up, The Girl from Brest…) Look at her, okay, but what for? Staring at a being like a painter, observing its slow degradation and grasping the anxiety of an erasure. Benjamin (Benoît Magimel) has terminal cancer. The doctor is not beating around the bush. Death is there, lurking and will strike quickly. Inevitably. Benjamin is also a drama teacher and therefore enables young people to attain a form of truth. A work that the condemned does in return, working unconsciously on the own representation of his exit. Emmanuelle Bercot does not shy away, her feverish staging abolishes distances, reconfigures the space to prepare for embalming. The patient listened to by his students, listens to his doctor. And when the body no longer allows you to move, you have to finally listen to yourself to settle any possible accounts. Around, there is also the mother, Crystal (Catherine Deneuve), there, tired and helpless; the unrecognized son who hesitates – there, not there? ; or the nurse (Cécile de France) ultimately seduced. To this is added a very documented touch. The boat becomes heavy, too, threat of a shipwreck. The flashes of melodrama cannot do everything. But in the center, there is Magimel and his impenetrable face on the surface of which life has nevertheless taken its quarters. The light recomposes this beautiful figure as desired. In his lifetime is a strange film of which certain paroxysmal aspects even evoke of Palma. It’s not nothing.

By Emmanuelle Bercot. With: Benoît Magimel, Catherine Deneuve, Gabriel Sara… Duration: 2h00. Release on November 24, 2021

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