‘In the Shadow of the Girls’, Alex Lutz sets the tone in prison

Luke (Alex Lutz) is an opera singer. Recognized, appreciated, he experiences, despite his success, a painful episode in his life. He is in mourning and feels guilty. A personal crisis will tell his entourage. The sister needs him. He tends to run away. She was offered to lead a singing workshop in a women’s prison. He finds himself face to face with the lionesses. Hard and big mouths, even if some look sleepy because they are under…

Luke (Alex Lutz) is an opera singer. Recognized, appreciated, he experiences, despite his success, a painful episode in his life. He is in mourning and feels guilty. A personal crisis will tell his entourage. The sister needs him. He tends to run away. She was offered to lead a singing workshop in a women’s prison. He finds himself face to face with the lionesses. Rigid and talkative, although some look sleepy because they are on medication. Others are furious. Some hate each other to the point of quarreling. Wounded and criminals, they do not need pity or good feelings. But they are, Nur, Carol, Janine, Jess, Marzena, Katherine. We are waiting for a new one with a firm footing.

Everything is going smoothly. Restrained, peaceful, almost cutesy, he spoke to them, as if involuntarily talking to big little girls, people whom he had to coax. Nothing is more difficult for a free man than to make himself heard by the prisoners. The voice can at least suggest the right timbre thanks to the song, the chorus moment where something of the order of emancipation happens. This search for a delicate balance lies at the heart of this lifeless film that pretends to be what it really is, the journey of a boy who died from grief.

cobblestone hill

The idea of ​​a prison whose inmates discover themselves through an art project, as in Triumph, where the inmates put on a play, not least Waiting for Godot, may seem quite close for a moment. plot “In the shadow of the girls.”

In fact, the feature film by Étienne Comar is very far from this, because it does not lead to deliverance or success. History modestly cultivates its plot, melody, possible harmony, well-being, even if you can’t get out of this fence. Luke starts his master classes with a children’s song, continues with Mozart, an Indian song or Patrick Juvet, and starts again. Sisyphus in the country of captives. We start over every time. Moreover, the film opens with an almost abstract image of a mound of black rubble that is impossible to grasp.

We know little about these women, except that they did the unthinkable. Some of them are young like Jess (Hafsia Herzi) or mothers like Carol (Virle Bitens) or they stick to their past and refuse to reveal anything. Prisoners of their past before they became prisoners of the cell. Like Catherine (Agnes Jaoui), whose voice is confident but whose heart is so heavy that she decided to keep her demons to herself once and for all.

We don’t know much about Luke other than that he lost his mother and his sister is devastating the house. He rents a room from an extravagant widow (Michelle Moretti) whose husband was an artist. The rest of the time he goes. He canceled his concerts. In fact, his life is spent in this pre-trial detention center, where the heat is unbearable, the windows are closed and the air is impossible to breathe.

melancholy and simplicity

He makes his choristers sing “Love is a Bohemian Child” by Bizet. He makes them sing lying down, on the ground, in every possible way. Is he a professional? They ask him to show what he can do. He refuses, before agreeing one day. Her high-pitched, crystalline voice rises in Vivaldi’s sublime “Cum Dederit”. Dubbed by countertenor Maximin Richard, Alex Lutz has the features of a fallen angel whose performance suddenly takes center stage. The girls nod their heads in admiration. Did they have fun? Yes, no doubt, but history maintains a complex relationship with the notion of achievement, whose dynamics are constantly reversed in the film. Not only because here it is not so much about opening up to oneself, but about accepting one’s burden, agreeing to it without anger. And it is to this movement of the humility of the skull that the film comes. No dream, no way out. Only carry your own burden, alone or with others. Everyone clings to what they can. Melancholy also has its merits. Etienne Comard, who created the disappointing Django a few years ago, prefers to talk about simplicity.

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