All to play for

All to play for
Original title:Rien à perdre
Director:Delphine Deloget
Running time:112 minutes
Release date:Not communicated

Mulder's Review

Virginie Efira, an actress known for her captivating performances in various French-language films, shines once again in her latest project, All to play for. Directed by Delphine Deloget, this film delves into the life of Sylvie, played by Virginie Efira, a single mother trying to meet the challenges of raising her two sons, Sofiane and Jean-Jacques. Set against the backdrop of a busy nightclub, Sylvie's life appears to be a chaotic yet well-oiled machine, as she reconciles her job as a barmaid with her responsibilities as a mother and babysitter.

The story takes an unexpected turn when an innocent misadventure involving Sofiane triggers a series of events that turn Sylvie's life upside down. The incident prompts the intervention of child protection services, represented by the stern Mademoiselle Henry, convincingly played by India Hair. As Sofiane is taken away, the film shifts from a light comedy-drama to a tense drama that explores the complexities of Sylvie's struggle to find her son.

Virginie Efira's performance as Sylvie is a testament to her talent, as she perfectly embodies the character's range of emotions. From moments of frustration and helplessness to fiery determination to find her son, Virginie Efira captures the essence of a mother caught in a turbulent battle against a bureaucratic system that fails to see the big picture. Sylvie's flaws and vulnerabilities are highlighted, making her both a sympathetic and flawed protagonist. Despite her flaws, Sylvie's commitment to her family's well-being resonates strongly with the audience.

Deloget's direction is meticulous, capturing both the chaotic atmosphere of the nightclub and the intimacy of Sylvie's struggles. However, the film's pace is uneven at times, with some scenes feeling rushed while others have ample time to unfold. The supporting cast, notably Félix Lefebvre as Jean-Jacques and Arieh Worthalter as Sylvie's troubled brother Hervé, deliver solid performances that reinforce the emotional depth of the story.

Where All to play for excels is in its exploration of the conflict between Sylvie's imperfect but sincere love for her children and the rigidity of a welfare system that fails to understand her complexities. As Sylvie navigates court hearings, support group meetings and emotional confrontations, the film raises poignant questions about the limits of the system and the delicate balance between individual autonomy and state intervention.

The film's English title, All to Play For, somewhat understates the urgency and frustration Sylvie faces. The French title, Rien à perdre, better captures the essence of her situation. As Sylvie's journey unfolds, the audience is taken on an emotional rollercoaster, torn between empathy for her struggles and questioning her choices.

While All to play for succeeds in highlighting the flaws and challenges of the system, it sometimes tends to manipulate the narrative to elicit a specific emotional response. The portrayal of certain characters, such as Mademoiselle Henry, as unfeeling, inflexible caricatures of authority can sometimes seem heavy-handed.

All to play for is a stimulating exploration of motherhood, resilience and the complexities of navigating a bureaucratic labyrinth. Virginie Efira's performance anchors the film, capturing the essence of an imperfect but determined mother fighting for her family. Delphine Deloget's directorial debut showcases her ability to create intimate, emotional scenes, even if the film sometimes stumbles in its pacing and characterization. While the depiction of the system's weaknesses tends towards the melodramatic, the film's main message about the power of love and determination remains poignant. All to play for is a commendable addition to Virginie Efira's filmography, and a very promising debut for Delphine Deloget.

All to play for
Written and directed by Delphine Deloget
Produced by Olivier Delbosc, Cédric Iland, Emilien Bignon, Caroline Nataf
Starring Virginie Efira, Félix Lefebvre, Arieh Worthalter, Mathieu Demy, India Hair, Alexis Tonetti, Andréa Brusque, Oussama Kheddam, Audrey Mikondo, Caroline Gay, Nadir Legrand, Anne Steffens, Jean-Luc Vincent, Marie Gili-Pierre
Music by Nicolas Giraud
Cinematography : Guillaume Schiffman
Edited by Béatrice Herminie        
Production companies: France Télévisions, UNITÉ, Curiosa Films
Distributed by Ad Vitam (France)
Release date : November 22 2023 (France)
Running time : 112 minutes

Seen on 9 september 2023 at (Deauville international center

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