Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Justine Triet's crazy/masterful SIBYL is this year's must-see movie for and about shrinks

For all of us who've wondered down the decades just how much of a "real" life that person might have who has been acting as our psychiatrist or psychotherapist -- with whom s/he is involved, what kind of a life they have, and even how crazy they themselves might possibly be -- have I got a new movie for you! 

That this is also a film about film-making, acting, creating and directing should only add to the enticement. SIBYL is co-written and directed by Justine Triet (shown below) and it ought more firmly than ever place both its director and its star, Virginie Efira, on the international movie map.

Ms Triet takes in an array of characters and situations, weaving these together with a fine combo of skill and originality, while using time past and present so speedily and smartly that you will barely have the opportunity to take a breath without risk of missing something vital. 

Without giving away too much, the tale begins as therapist Sibyl (Efira, below) tells her own shrink that she wants to finally concentrate on writing a novel and so will give up many of her current patients in the process. He tries to dissuade her, to little avail, and we see the pain that this causes some patients, even as Sibyl receives a call from a new patient, an actress named Margot, who is desperate for help. 

It becomes increasingly clear that Sibyl herself is in need of more therapy, as is just about everyone around her, though part of  the irony of this very interesting film is that is also becomes clear that therapists/therapy can end up offering more than solving problems -- even if there is at least one patient who Sibyl has certainly been able to help.

Via that desperate actress (another very fine performance from Adèle Exarchopoulos, above), we meet her lover and co-star (Gaspard Ulliel, below, left), his lover and the film's director (Sandra Hüller, below, right) and assorted crew members, and then we go to the shoot on that famous island of Stromboli -- which becomes the movies's high point (for us, if not for the characters and the film-within-the-film).

Triet's understanding of (and sharp sense of humor about) actors and acting, psychiatry and human nature, together with the especially fine performances she draws from her entire cast -- including Laure Calamy, who plays Sibyl's sister, Niels Schneider (below) as her former lover, and Paul Hamy as her current hubby -- makes the film even more of a pleasure, as well as something of a tease. A nod also to Arthur Harari, who plays Sibyl's therapist and who co-wrote this unusual screenplay.

TrustMovies would imagine that Sibyl will become the go-to movie for all kinds of therapists, maybe some of their patients, and certainly for actors and movie-makers. It is a French film, remember, so do not expect all the loose ends tied up neatly. Better to simply savor the conundrums the film explores, smartly and often humorously -- about identity, performance and the uses/misuses of the therapeutic process.

From Music Box Films, in mostly French with English subtitles (and unfortunately in some heavily-accented English that could have used subtitles of its own) and running a nice 101 minutes, Sibyl opens in virtual theaters this Friday, September 11. Click here then scroll down to click on Theatrical Engagements to learn how you can view the film.

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