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  • The trailer was classically misleading. I did not expect a pale remake of Providence (1977) directed by Alain Resnais.

    In short: 1) Sibyl has a few undisclosed skeletons in the closet and manages them while drinking abusively. 2) Sibyl is a shrink and the border between her private life and her professional life does not exist. 3) Sibyl is a writer and she draws inspiration from her own surroundings. Thus, given these three points, fiction and reality are quickly confused, for Sibyl first and for the audience even more.

    Although the actresses Sandra Hüller and Adèle Exarchopoulos are outstanding, this story of a lost woman suffering of emotional distress is globally boring.
  • bastos28 April 2020
    This movie is much more confusing than it needed to be which makes the immersion in the story very challenging at the beginning without any big payoff for the effort. It's just a way to try and make the movie seem more interesting than it is in reality. Well shot and acted.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The prologue of the story begins with the phrase that "imagination is a lie about a life". And this lie goes like a thin red line through the whole Sibyl's life. She lives from one passion to another, changes her addictions but she didn't change herself. First, she has an obsession with a young lover, then she was dependent on meeting with one her client, an unbalanced actress, then she has a romance with alcohol, and finally, she says "my life is a fiction, I can rewrite it as I need. "It looks like she cannot live in the real dimension, she constantly needs a fantasy about herself, about her own children, about patients. This movie is a cynical erotic tragicomedy about a woman who thinks she can control her life, her emotions. In fact, she slowly and inevitably destroys herself.
  • I can't recall seeing a film with so many good and great elements: cinematography, acting, a good deal of great dialogue, that was assembled into such a let down of total experience. It is like observing a kid who is smart, has everything, goes to he best schools -- yet goes nowhere in life.

    I don't know where this project went wrong. Was it deep flaws from the beginning and they went ahead without resolving them, or was it some kind of creative fight in post production, perhaps about comedy vs drama as the goal in editing?
  • Such an unconventional movie, with a great cast . The story is twisted , in many directions but it comes to Sibyl's conclusion , "my life is a fiction ...." Then perfect setting with the Stromboli ;) Sensible , smart , great photo... . and bravo to Virginie, Adele, Gaspard and Nils .
  • I was somewhat skeptical before entering the theater, thinking it would turn out to be another boring film about white people surrendering themselves to hordes of therapists, french woman suffering from romantic distress and so on. However, the writer/director cleverly managed to create a layered portrayal of the protagonist shrink and the world she lives in - blending in her present life, her past, the fiction novel she's writing and the movie her patient stars in. The script is mature, quirky and unpredictable enough to handle these four layers without becoming pointless and confusing. The performances are stellar, especially of Sandra Huller as the temperamental film director.

    There is no dearth of past french films handling similar material. Yet somehow this film appears fresh and profusely entertaining.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Sibyl is a disappointment after Victoria, Triet's highly amusing previous film with the same star, Virginie Efira. I was surprised to find people consider Sibyl a comedy. It's more like an account of how a woman in recovery from alcoholism returns to drinking, and why: it that a funny subject?

    Too much is going on here, and it's hard to know how to take it. There's a good basic topic (if this can be said to have one): a psychiatrist who steals from a patient's life to turn it into successful fiction. A simpler, more conventional treatment of this could have been interesting enough. But Triet and cowriter Arthur Harari pile on the complexity and obscure this theme. On top of that there's a surreal back-and-forth-flashback-montage editing technique of very short clips (a bad new fad) that's pretentious and adds confusion.

    Sibyl (Efira) was a bestselling author but a painful breakup with her former boyfriend Gabriel (Niels Schneider), with whom she has a child, led her to quit writing and turn to psychotherapy (go figure). She is happy now (it would seem) with a new man, Etienne (Paul Hamy) by whom she has had another child, a little girl. She is going to meetings to conrol her alcoholism and isn't drinking. (Just wait.)

    She has a younger sister, Laure Calamy (from the Netflix French TV hit Call My Agent), who appears several times, most notably to give the little girl a quick lesson in emotional manipulation: she tells her mother she "lacks the tools to deal with life." An amusing, but gratuitous, moment.

    As the film begins - but it is full of flashbacks to the affair with Gabriel, including a gratuitous full-on sex scene (eschewed in Victoria) - Sibyl can no longer resist the temptation to go back to writing and to that end is dismissing her patients. There is a crudely comic scene of a patient royally pissed off at this. Tellingly, he says he has given her his whole life. Soon we will learn that she's quite likely to use it.

    At least she does when she takes on a new patient who forces herself upon her for an emergency. She is Margot Vasilis (Adèle Exarchopoulos, in full hysteria mode), an actress on contract for a film to be made on and around the island of Stromboli (evidently a homage to the 1950 Bergman-Rossilini film). She is pregnant by her costar, Igor Moleski (Gaspard Ulliel), but he's involved with the film's German director, Mika Saunders (Sandra Hüller of Toni Edrmann). The emergency is that she can't decide whether to have the baby or not, and she can't bear to tell Igor she's pregnant.

    Sibyl is never any discernible help in this matter, and Margot goes back and forth. Meanwhile Sibyl - who has none of the qualities of the wisdom of that name, or even any moral compass - is furiously writing a manuscript based on Margot's sessions, and presumably other stuff cribbed from people's lives. As time goes on, publishers turn out to be very pleased with the results. She's also having play-therapy sessions with a little boy grieving for his dead mother. (These seem gratuitous, and not that interesting, but that goes for much of the material that crowds this over-stuffed film.) Flashbacks frantically depict intense encounters between Sibyl and the handsome Niels Schneider.

    Soon - and here is when we enter into farcical territory, though it seemed heavy-handed to me - Sibyl winds up with the film crew on Stromboli, because Margot is even more confused and desperate, but the filmmaking must go on, so she, Sibyl, is called in to hep Margot function. But due to the emotional complications with Igor, Margot, and Mika, Mika also is nearing a meltdown, her directing becoming ever more neurotic and extreme. (I couldn't help wondering if the way Mika's directing is handled might make future actors hesitate to take on Triet as a director.)

    In a series of heavy-handed filmmaking sequences, Sibyl emerges for a while as the only competent person around, except perhaps for Igor, who mostly holds his temper. (This is a long-suffering and selfless role for Gaspard Ulliel and one of his most unflattering.)

    In a way Victoria was a wild, disorderly mess too, with Efira in a ditsy but sexy role. A hilariously absurd courtroom sequence toward the end, and the charm and suavity of the great Melvil Poupaud, and the sweetness of Vincent Lacoste as a babysitter enamored of Efira, make that movie charming and fun. That doesn't happen here.

    Eventually the responsibility - or the succession of inappropriate roles, not to mention the inappropriate behavior in assuming them, all the while breaking all the rules of medical ethics - causes Sibyl to meltdown, and her return to alcoholism is spectacular. It's also embarrassing and clumsily staged. And profoundly unfunny. While I sided with French critics on Victoria against the anglo ones who trashed it, this time I have to agree with the Anglos, and hope that Triet will have more success with her material in her next feature.

    Sibyl, 100 mins., debuted in Belgium and France May 24 and the same day at at Cannes, Justine Triet's first film in Competition there. It played in four other festivals including Toronto and New York, screened at the latter for this review, Oct. 5, 2019. AlloCiné press rating 3.7 (butI Victoria was 3.8, La bataille de Solférino 4.0), Metascore (same as for Victoria) 57%.
  • Sibyl wants to stop her psychiatry practice in order to write the next great French novel. But not before she agrees to treat a pregnant girl who is in love with a famous actor. Fast forward a few weeks, and Sybil is suddenly in the middle of a Love triangle (or is it trapezium?), that opens old wounds and make her question her perception of reality. Who needs therapy now?

    Independent director Justine Triet has been praised by the critics for her previous works that underline social and political problems. Here we deal with a crisis of a domestic nature and one wonders if the film is based on the director's personal experience. SYBIL cannot be called feminist even though it features plenty of strong women making tough choices. The problem is that those female characters are all despicable and hardly inspire any sympathy from the viewer. The story is patchworky and, while intriguing, it takes a long time to get to the meat of things. Erotic scenes while well made seem irrelevant and the plot itself is hard to define - it's like it was re-written in the last minute. And we are left wondering what it was all about.

    Filled with great performances from all Involved, and with its decent cinematography, the movie mostly suffers from the story's inconsistencies and a lack of focus. Overstuffed with ideas which are plenty but never quite make it whole the film struggles to find its identity and borderlines on any piece of entertainment's worst enemy - which is boredom!
  • Elisabetha4912 October 2019
    Too many scenes' discrepancies...., story/script way-out irrelevant ... ; what a waste of ( potential ) talents!?....Editing is , at best, ... irrelevant !?