La Mif: an exciting dive into the heart of a foster home [critique]

Frédéric Baillif recounts a home for teenagers through an ambitious form of narrative between impressive mastery and permanent chaos. A great success.

Documentary or fiction? It is precisely a perfectly orchestrated mix of genres that Frédéric Baillif signs with The Mif. A carefully documented fiction, over two years of preparatory work during which Baillif built this feature film with his young performers (all of them astonishingly accurate), between interviews and workshops, to explore a subject that everyone knew to have it frequented as educators or boarders: the daily life of a foster home for children and teenagers. The Mif is the darker, more intense, more tense version of the recent Placed where a forbidden sexual relationship between a 16-year-old teenager and a 14-year-old boy will set fire or powder. Built in chapters (each dedicated to different residents of the place) and in a game of flashbacks and flashforwards – to offer different angles to certain situations – admirably mastered, The Mif manages to be as close as possible to his characters thanks to a camera that follows each of their movements while having a perspective on these explosive situations. Baillif never gives lessons. By showing the daily dilemmas and questionings but also the administrative rigidity with which an educator who has devoted her life to her profession is confronted, he questions the notions of commitment, education and the relationship with others in a place where the word appeasement has no course. He masters his subject at his fingertips while letting a breath of freedom cross each shot. Such emotional power leaves you standing knocked out.

Of Frederic Baillif. With Claudia Grob, Anaïs Uldry, Kassia Da Costa… Duration: 1h51. Released March 9, 2022

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