19 July 2002 | maple-2
Thought provoking, not titillating, recovery from violent sexual abuse.
Seemingly happy 19 year old philosophy student, Claire, is abducted when returning to her dorm and gang raped by four strangers. She cannot tell anyone about it, drops out of school, starts to have impersonal sex with near strangers, and withdraws from her brother and friends. After Marie, (Fanny Cottençon) an older woman acquaintance, picks her up at one of her parking lot f***s, and offers her refuge in her country house, Claire starts to turn her life around enough to get the courage to try suicide. When she is rescued, Claire's brother (Samuel Jouy) gets her out of the hospital, takes her for a child like frolic on the beach and returns to Marie's country house. Interesting study in the deadening of emotion from this trauma and then the slow recovery of self, a bit like "Blue" by Krzysztof Kieslowski. The recovery of Clair's sexual self is portrayed through her hesitant relationship with a photographer colleague (Pierre Cassignard). The hopeful ending comes after Claire starts to reconcile with her father (François Berléand) who withdrew emotionally when she was a child and her mother died. He is the first person she tells of the gang rape, 8 months after it happened. Strong first effort by this director, Sandrine Ray, who focuses on a woman living with the secret of violent abuse. Also effective, if somewhat opaque performance by Vahina Giocante as Claire. All in all this is a thought provoking & sobering film without the gut wrenching impact of "Blue" or "The War Zone" by Tim Roth.