Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:28 am 
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Sexual coming of age with visual flair and a strong lead

This beautiful but no-nonsense summer-of-love coming of age picture entirely revolves around the sixteen-year-old Nina, played with flair and assurance by newcomer Zéa Duprez. Nina lives with her bohemian (tattooed, dope-smoking) mother Karine (Rosy Bronner) and army- bound brother Alex (Nathan Le Graciet) in a town-center flat. While Alex works in a vineyard, he rejects his father's suggestion he become a winemaker. For the nonce Nina, who has dropped out of school, takes a summer job at a theme park called Dinospace a bus ride away.

Dp Aurelien Marra delivers the square-format 4:3 images in ripe color and the editing is clean and quick. The aspect ratio delivers something simple and earthy; it also emphasizes the mountains and verdant hills that are a backdrop for many scenes and intensifies the depth of a yellow covered bridge Nina runs through to catch the bus to work or, the first time, to miss it; and the tunnel she rides through on a motorbike, the red taillight glowing.

This movie's tomboy spunk is balanced by a mystical side: Just before Nina meets her temporary boyfriend who gives her a brief sexual affair before disappearing for Algeria, she sees a meteorite disappear into one of the omnipresent mountains. It's not the sign of apocalypse, she decides, but that something new and important is coming to her.

Morad (Bilal Agab) is the 19-year-old brother of Nina's co-worker Djamila (Oumaima Lyamouri). When they meet, there is a long mutual stare. Nothing need be said. Bilal warns Nina Morad won't stay around and will only hurt her, but she hooks up with him. Morad has been in juvenile detention for two years, she learns from him later. He has a man bun and a tattoo, deals, and rides a motorbike. His recognition of Nina's tomboy side shows when she's at his place, kids are playing ball, and he tells her "Show me what you've got." The combative relationship that develops between them makes up for their lack of romance.

But later, she makes several long treks to Morad's and Djamila's place, and waits a long time for him to come out to see her. When she gets beat up by some rich girls whose iPhone she steals, he sticks around to be nice to her. What will she do when the job ends and he disappears? With its cell phones and trendy hair and references to the siege of Raqqa this is not a film like Marie Baie des Anges aiming to be classic and timeless and not like that favorite of mine meant to be a romance. It's how the girl spent a rough summer that had some unforgettably cool stuff in it. The filmmaker shows a sense of the moment. But what is timeless is the simple elegance of the filmmaking.

Romain Laguna studied at the French national film academy La Fémis, and previously made several short films. He shot this debut feature near his home town of Béziers, in the south of France, using non-actors.

Meteorites/Les Météorites, 85 mins., debuted in San Sebastien's New Directors competition May 20, 2018; it was also shown at Bron, France Les Alizé, and a French premiere; French theatrical release scheduled for May 2019. Reviewed by Neil Young for Hollywood Reporter and described in Variety. Screened for this review as part of the UniFrance-Film Society of Lincoln Center Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, Mar. 2019. North American Premiere.

Rendez-Vous showtimes:
Thursday, March 7, 4:15pm
Sunday, March 10, 3:30pm


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