From low floor: the revelation of a filmmaker [critique]

This chronicle of the daily life of a small thug from Aubervilliers highlights the talent of Yassine Qnia for his first feature

The summary of this first feature film (discovered in Cannes, at the Directors’ Fortnight) can be summed up in one sentence: Mehdi, a little thug in his thirties whose burglaries with his accomplices are yielding less and less, tries to win back the mother (Souheila Yacoub, amazing) of her little boy. But from this sentence, Yassine Qnia – a surveyor-topographer who came to the cinema as an autodidact via a handful of short films – draws an infinitely romantic film whose claimed modesty superbly translates the modesty of his main character. From low floor is the chronicle of an announced impasse. Or how this Mehdi who wants to control everything in his life as in that of his relatives precisely gradually loses control and will be the last to realize it.

There is no trace of the spectacular here, either in the description of the burglaries or in the daily life of Aubervilliers where the intrigue takes place. Yassine Qnia does not hammer things in, he simply tells how material insecurity is the source of so many emotional instabilities that can lead to delinquency in this working-class suburb. He does not judge more than he apologizes, he simply shows how to take the paths that seem the simplest – spending time with the woman he loves and their son he cherishes – turns out to be impossible when you is formatted by the idea that all normal “work” will bring in less and lock it up more than illegality. All carried by a formidable actor whom we are happy to see for the first time carrying a whole story on his shoulders: Soufiane Guerrab (Patients).

By Yassine Qnia. With Soufiane Guerrab, Souheila Yacoub, Thibault Cathalifaud … Duration 1h27. Released on August 4, 2021

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