With a great truth, "Louloute" takes you into its universe from the first minutes of the screening. The opening is not at all obvious though : the film is supposed to be about a little girl living on a farm in Normandy in the 1980s and what do we see? Teenage boys playing soccer on a lawn and a young woman asleep in the grass. The rain starts to fall and she suddenly wakes up, gets up and runs towards a building that turns out to be a high school. Don't panic, you're in the right room!, This young woman is indeed Louloute, or rather Louise, who, two decades later has become a history-geography teacher. The young woman is not feeling too good at the moment and often arrives late, as is the case here. What is her problem? You will understand the nature of her troubles later, through sequences that are either contemporary (with Dimitri, the new English teacher, her childhood friend) or set in 1988 (on the family farm, with her parents, older brother and younger sister). Louise is in fact the victim of an unresolved childhood trauma, a trauma, which will be revealed in the last part of the film.
As I said in the beginning, the film rings true from one end to the other, whether in the scenes in the 2020 high school (the premises, the teachers' lounge, the colleagues, the vice principal giving Louise a piece of mind, the classroom, the students' conduct) or in that of the 1980s (the authentic Normandy farm setting, the behavior of the three children, the daily life of a dairy farmer, discussions about the problems of small milk producers, etc).
This fine feeling of veracity is also found in the characters, starting with Louloute, an endearing hypersensitive little girl with too much intelligence not to perceive the problems her parents go through. In the role, Alice Henri reveals herself as an exceptional actress: carrying most of the film on her shoulder is a real exploit for someone so young - which she does - with honors! All the other members of the family are as well depicted and interpreted: each character has their own personality, especially Isabelle, the loving mother who is not made for misfortune (luminous Laure Calamy) and Jean-Jacques, the father, whose worries sometimes make the caring dad somewhat aggressive (Bruno Clairefond, who seems to have raised cows all his life).
Finally, let us note that Viel, not content with excelling in sociology, psychology, and narrative art (in particular his talent for moving from one era to another), also successfully ventures down the path of the unusual and the dreamlike. Two sequences in particular stand out: the liberation of a hen in a huge intensive breeding shed and Louise's nightmare, one of the most terrifying I've seen in a long time.
Unfortunately « Louloute »'s great richness, its magnificent humanity and its consummate art of storytelling remain uncelebrated, as it was shunned at its release. It is unfair, but it happens. But it is not too late: watch it on DVD, Blu-ray, streaming, TV, whatever, but watch it. It is a little masterpiece.
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