Mercifully short and non-exploitative, Lucile Hadžihalilović‘s debut is claustrophobic and tense and well-crafted. The film’s sense of dread never boils over into outright terror, but it’s nonetheless a fairly haunting little piece.
Following her mother’s attempted suicide, preteen Mimi moves in with her aloof Aunt Solange. Solange’s new boyfriend, Jean-Pierre, appears on the scene with a shocking flash of violence, and hovers uncomfortably close to Mimi whenever he visits.
There’s one horribly tense scene as the film circles around the inevitable confrontation of the set-up, but the movie spares Mimi and the viewers from the worst cruelties.
The movie’s central theme is a cycle of trauma, both inherited and inflicted by a cruel world. It also depicts lost and stolen childhood and a world always on the verge of nastiness. Yet its atmosphere isn’t quite as thick as I hoped, in spite of strong visual control.
It’s odd to call something so bleak a “trifle” but its small focus and scenario ultimately make it a bit forgettable in spite of its solid craft.
Nearly Good (4/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.