Something in the Air [Apres Mai]

"Good"

Something in the Air [Apres Mai] Review


This sharply well-made French drama tackles an offbeat chapter in history with real skill, although the densely populated screenplay and fragmented approach to storytelling makes it difficult to engage with. Essentially a series of relatively disconnected sequences involving young people coming of political age, it offers plenty of material for the actors to grab hold of. But making sense of the overall story is difficult.

The period in question is the early 1970s, in the wake of the student uprisings of the late-60s. Just outside Paris, art student Gilles (Metayer) joins the anarchist movement with his friends Alain and Jean-Pierre (Armand and Conzelmann), littering the streets with anti-establishment fliers and bombing buildings with graffiti. But when one stunt goes wrong, they're forced to hide out for the summer in Italy with other activists. With his girlfriend (Combes) in London, Gilles starts seeing Christine (Creton). But she leaves with another guy, forcing Gilles to re-evaluate everything about his life and his dreams for the future.

Gifted filmmaker Assayas packs the film with references to iconic books, movies and artists, as these young people develop their own sense of who they are and what kind of art they hope to create. But this adds a level of literary intensity to the film that's not easy to join in on. Instead of indulging in typically teenaged hedonism (like the Americans they meet along the way), these kids are eerily serious. They can't just enjoy music and sex: it has to mean something profound for them.

At the centre of the film, Gilles is an engaging character, nicely played by Metayer as a young man trying to find his voice as a painter. His awkward relationships are realistic, and all of the actors reveal telling details in their characters. But there are so many of them that they crowd out Gilles' journey. Assayas stages each scene organically (the clashes between students and police are especially realistic), and the film catches the period beautifully with sunny cinematography and groovy music. Although by trying to tell so many stories, Assayas has made a film that's fascinating but never involving.

 

Rich Cline



Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Charles Gillibert, Nathanael Karmitz

Starring: Clément Métayer as Gilles, Lola Créton as Christine, Felix Armand as Alain, Carole Combes as Laure, India Menuez as Leslie, Hugo Conzelmann as Jean-Pierre, Mathias Renou as Vincent, Léa Rougeron as Maria, Martin Loizillon as Rackam le Rouge, André Marcon as Father of Gilles, Simon-Pierre Boireau as Jean-René, Laurent Ramacciotti as Security guard / Coach, Philippe Paimblanc as Principal, Alain Gluckstein as French teacher, Jean-François Ragot as Philosophy teacher, Lionel Dray as Activist filmmaker, Guillaume Saurrel as Activist filmmaker, Jeanne Candel as Member of Porc-Épic Collective, Adrien Lamande as Member of Porc-Épic Collective, Paul Spera as Carl, as Actress (London), as Folk singer, Félix de Givry as High School student activist, Jean Garreau as High School student activist, Louise Chennevière as Activist, Manuel Mazaudier as Gérard, Maxime Jullia as Gérard’s brother (as Maxime Julia), Sylvain Jacques as Jean-Serge

Also starring:

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