When is the right time to grow up? Do we have to grow up? Why not stay kids forever? New French film Jeune Femme answers those questions with beauty, precision and humour.
Paula (Lætitia Dosch) has just been dumped by her long term and much older partner. As any normal person would, she has a bit of a breakdown and does not know how to put herself together. She has no family to go back to, and all her friends are actually his friends so she cannot count on them. Homeless and jobless she struggles to survive in the city of lights.
From this description one might think that Paula is a victim of the circumstances, which at the beginning looks like it. But her character, beautifully written, develops overtime to show her flaws, like being spoilt and childish, having no sense of where she is going and not a clue how to make a dinner. This would seem normal for any coming-of-age story, but Paula is over 30 years old… She is young in spirit and funny but at the same time irresponsible and clueless. She is a kind of character you would love to hate.
The film is a beautifully crafted lightly feminist character study. Although Paula is obsessed with getting back with her ex, we hardly see him and their whole relationship is created from her perspective. Paris in Paula’s eyes and the director’s eyes is also not a joyful, romantic and always sunny cityscape, but rainy, ugly and dirty. This does not mean that the film is not aesthetically pleasing. On the contrary, the cinematography, although might not be stunning, is very pleasant to the eye and helps to create a realistic portrait of the main character though a lens of female gaze and creative use of colour.
I believe any growing up woman, young or old, will find a piece of herself in this film. The film is feminine and contemporary, funny and meaningful. It shows the reality of being alone in a big city and the struggle of finding oneself.
For the film Jeune Femme the director Léonor Serraille won two awards at Cannes Film Festival 2017. It is a great accomplishment bearing in mind that it is her directorial debut.