|Running time:||138 minutes|
|Release date:||Not communicated|
It's a strange choice to propose a closing film for the Deauville American Film Festival, as successful as it is. Yet the new film written and directed by Yvan Attal (My Wife Is an Actress (2001), Happily Ever After (2003), Do Not Disturb (2012), The Jews (2016), Le Brio (2017), My Dog Stupid (2019)) is certainly one of his best as it shows a real care in writing, directing actors and directing. One suspects that the great thrillers of the 70's had an important influence on the conception of this film. By putting rape accusations at the center of its story and by making a young adult from a very privileged background undergo a severe judgment related to a relationship that went wrong after a drunken night out, the film seems to want to alert public opinion to findings that are too quickly dispatched and to hasty and severe conclusions with consequences for both the alleged victim and the aggressor.
We discover a wealthy and separated family whose husband Jean Farel (Pierre Arditi) is a powerful French political journalist and his ex-wife, Claire, a popular essayist known for her strong feminist commitments. Their only child, Alexandre (Ben Attal), is a student who has undertaken university studies in the United States and who, while visiting Paris to see his separated parents, finds himself suspected of raping the daughter Mila (Suzanne Jouannet) of his mother's new partner Jean (Matthieu Kassovitz). Alexandre is assigned a public defender (played by Benjamin Lavernhe). After being arrested and put in jail, Alexandre's parole is revoked after he tries to chat with Mila in the street. There follows a long trial in which different points of view will oppose each other and the truth will have some difficulties to be perceived.
Human Things is clearly made up of two parts. The first one is very meticulous and shows how accusations of rape can put a whole family can suffer the numerous attacks of public opinion and go so far as to destroy some people. It is interesting to see that the two families in question are shown in a very documented way and carry a real anger whether it is the family of Alexander who refutes the facts or that of the victim also separated and whose very religious wife wishes that the truth bursts and opposes that the money proposed by the lawyer of the parents of Alexander to put an end to these accusations of rape. The second one takes the features of the pleading films and proves to be the most interesting and successful as the realization is inspired and totally captures the attention of the audience.
The script, skilfully written by Yvan Attal, is sufficiently well constructed to give the main actors strong roles. Yvan Attal has surrounded himself in the main roles with his eldest son Ben Attal and his wife, Charlotte Gainsbourg, with whom he had already filmed in My Wife Is an Actress (2001). The rest of the cast is rather judicious with notably renowned actors such as Matthieu Kassovitz, Pierre Arditi, Benjamin Laverhne (one of the best current French actors), Audrey Dana. The result is a perfectly mastered film that skillfully plays with the nerves of the audience. In the same way, The Human Things leaves doubt for a long time if the rape really took place or if the alleged victim did not wish to take revenge for the bad treatment that this son of good family made her undergo. The film skilfully plays with vocabulary that has several meanings and with the twists and turns of certain sexual relationships that can be seen differently.
Certainly the film is embarrassing at times, especially because of the morals of Alexandre's father, Jean Farel, who is 70 years old and only finds love with a young secretary of 20 years old, and whose age difference seems to be justified only by the colossal amount of money that this man has. Believing he can do anything, this man goes so far as to pronounce during the trial certain sentences that can be very badly interpreted and seems to want to say that money can excuse everything. However, these scenes are made possible by the excellent direction of Yvan Attal who is as good an actor as he is a director. We can easily understand his will to devote himself only to writing and directing in order to control his film perfectly. We could perhaps reproach the film for its too long duration but it does not hinder the rhythm of the film which has completely conquered us by its emotional strength. Certainly after his two previous films that had disappointed us, Yvan Attal returns to a genre that he masters completely. We can only encourage you to discover this film which was also presented at the Venice Film Festival out of competition.
Written and directed by Yvan Attal
based on Karine Tuil's book Human Things
Produced by Yvan Attal and Olivier Delbosc
Starring Ben Attal, Suzanne Jouannet, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Mathieu Kassovitz, Pierre Arditi, Audrey Dana, Benjamin Lavernhe, Judith Chemla
Music by Mathieu Lamboley
Cinematography : Rémy Chevrin
Edited by Albertine Lastera
Production companies :
Distributed by Gaumont (France)
Release date : November 24, 2021 (France)
Running time : 138 minutes
Seen on September 11, 2021 at Casino Cinema (Deauville)