Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Another fine French courtroon drama exploring the way we live now: Stéphane Demoustier's THE GIRL WITH A BRACELET

When it rains, it pours. Here's the second post in a row to feature a good French film dealing with a murder trial: This time it's director/co-writer Stéphane Demoustier's THE GIRL WITH A BRACELET.

Instead of trying a husband for his wife's murder, we have a teenager accused of killing her best friend. As the facts/ suppositions of the case unfold, the question of guilt (about a lot of things other than the murder itself) begins to taint more than merely the defendant herself.

Parental responsibility, social media, sibling rivalry, teen friendship and (very) casual sex -- all of this and more is woven into this unusual and unusually dark and unsettling tale brought to fine life by M. Demoustier (shown at right), his co-writers and the excellent cast assembled here. 

The actors are particularly well cast. The pivotal role of Lise, the defendant in the case, is played by newcomer Melissa Guers (above and below), and Ms Guers captures so much about the difficult life of today's teenager. Sure, the teen years have always been hard (raging hormones, breaking away from parental control, peer pressure, etc.), but toss in our current and ever-more-crappy social media, and how much worse can it possibly get?

As for the parents, well, dad's too controlling, while mom perhaps is not stern enough. (That's Roschdy Zem and Chiara Mastroianni, respectively left and center, below, as Lise's father and mother.) There plenty of blame here to go around, but the filmmaker does not pile the weight on too heavily or unfairly, TrustMovies thinks. Instead he makes us think. And that's one of the points of this intelligent, questioning movie.

While much of the dialog is of the expected "courtroom" sort, the film cleverly catches you off-guard at numerous times, among these when Lise's mom levels a dead-on accusation at the prosecutor, and Lise herself questions why the court seems to so easily accept the testimony of a young male witness over that of her own. 

That prosecutor (above) is played by the excellent actress Anaïs Demoustier, who brings the right degree of professionalism and strength to the role, while Annie Mercier (below) as Lise's lawyer proves equally so on the opposite end -- even as the movie itself (as do so many French films) seems to come down on the side of "innocent until clearly proven guilty." 

Yet, by the very quiet and non-melodramatic conclusion, enough doubt remains to make you question everything all over again. Especially the manner in which children are being adapted into society in our current ever-more-fraught times.

From Icarus Home Video and Distrib Films US, in French with English subtitles and running a fast 95 minutes, The Girl With a Bracelet hit the street yesterday, Tuesday, September 22, on DVD and is available now digitally at virtual cinemas. Click here and then follow instructions to access a virtual viewing.

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