Albertine is of course a character created by Proust in Albertine disparue (Albertine Gone), the sixth volume of À la recherche du temps perdu, also known as La Fugitive (The Sweet Cheat Gone). Adapting a book is always a tricky business. Ever more so when it requires tackling a monument such as Proust. Never mind, Véronique Aubouy allows herself many variations from the book: the story still takes place in Normandy, but it is brief, set in the present day and, surprisingly, it mostly happens in a fire station. That’s the real challenge of the film: to get rid of any form of reverence in order to capture Proust today. What about the narrator? He is now an ageing fireman, Jean, who fills the otherwise dull life of the station with his sorrow, his questions and his heartache. Beyond the mere nod to the flame of passion or to scorching pain, the film shows the possibility to revisit situations that we thought were locked into a long-gone past.
Dialogues and situations borrowed from the book are mixed with snatches of conversations caught in the daily life of the fire station. But the film’s approach isn’t at all naturalistic: through the muffled atmosphere, the sweet melancholy, the calm voices, the almost motionless acting, the subtle phrasing… the act of reading isn’t obliterated, on the contrary, it surfaces throughout the film. From the page to actual bodies – those of the firemen, or of teenagers in a small town’s main street – a kind of reading through images is established, the space of a potential realisation of words somewhere in between, the ghostly echo of the book, of its inner music, that haunts the film just like Albertine haunts the fire station and Jean’s mind. (NF)
Original version : french.
Scenario : Véronique Aubouy.
Photography : Hugues Gemignani.
Editing : Camille Lotteau.
Sound : Revoyre Rosalie, Halbert Jérémie.
With : Jean Houtin, Lyna Khoudri, Salomé Chollet, Isolde Faria, Frédéric Divet.
Production : Paraiso Production (Nathalie Trafford), Les Films de la Liberté (Vladimir Léon).
Distribution : Paraiso Production (Nathalie Trafford).
Filmography : Je suis Annemarie Schwarzenbach, 2015. Bernadette Lafont, une sacrée Bonne Femme, 2013. Les Travaux de Luca Ronconi, 2003. Je ne suis pas un homme en colère, 2002. Un musicien passe, 2000.
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