“Rough Diamond” and “The Young Woman with the Needle”: in Cannes, to be moved or to be believed

The day after an opening evening marked by the meeting on the red carpet of Meryl Streep, Juliette Binoche and Greta Gerwig, during the presentation of an honorary Palme d’Or to the premiere, the Cannes fauna had to swap glitter for raincoats. You had to see the journalists trying to stay dry while waiting to pass through security at the Palais des Festivals. In solidarity, the members of the press who brought an umbrella willingly shared it: no rivalry in the face of bad weather.

Once everyone was safe, the competition screenings began with Rough diamondby Agathe Riedinger, and The young woman with the needle, by Magnus von Horn. These two portraits of resilient heroines share several themes, but offer very contrasting visions and, above all, results.

I had a big crush on Rough diamond, a first feature film bursting with energy and confidence, which charges forward not with its head down, but with its head held high, like its protagonist. Her name is Liane and she wants to be an influencer. She currently has few subscribers, but thanks to an audition for a reality show, all that begins to change.

While Liane waits for a response from production to know whether or not her dream will come true, we discover her difficult daily life, which she adorns, like her person, with a flashy shine.

Liane lives with her little sister, who she watches over, as well as with their mother, who, to use the latter’s expression, “is looked after” by passing men. “My mother is a shadow, she’s a breath,” confides Liane during a rare moment when she lets her guard down.

The appearance that this 19-year-old young woman aspires to, and that she hopes to be able to achieve with various implants, is very much a clone of the Kardashian clan.

Not only does Agathe Riedinger not judge the tastes and aspirations of her heroine, but she makes her say that the way she and her friends dress, transform their bodies and have fun in nightclubs is their business. “We don’t deserve your contempt! » she retorts to her mother who, unlike her eldest daughter, seems to have retreated into bitterness and resentment: “You dream too big”, she says.

Perched on eight-inch heels that make her feet bleed, Liane stumbles, but always gets up. Prey of choice for predators, she has instinct and imposes it: “I don’t need a guy to defend me. »

With her conquering nature, Malou Khebizi is a revelation in the role of Liane: she exudes the same determination, the same indomitable strength, as Sandrine Bonnaire at the time of No shelter, no lawby Agnès Varda.

In many respects, Rough diamond remember Fish Tankby Andrea Arnold (in competition this year with Bird): a very young woman who tries to escape from her environment through a competition, her single-parent mother who does not believe in it, who no longer believes in it… In the In both cases, the screenwriters-directors explore a certain part of human misery, but without falling into any miserabilism whatsoever (or worse, into bourgeois benevolence).

Poseur and borrowed

Strangely, Rough diamond And The young woman with the needle share an almost identical scene, where the heroine washes herself by rubbing with such vigor that she seems to want to change her skin: this is somewhat true, in both cases.

However, with its frank brilliance, Rough diamond eclipses the yet most scintillating, technically speaking, The young woman with the needle. Written and directed by Magnus von Horn, this third feature film (his first, The day aftercompeted in the Filmmakers’ Fortnight in 2015) tells the arduous destiny of Karoline, a worker living in near poverty in Copenhagen, around 1918 (Vic Carmen Sonne, an intriguing, charismatic presence).

She also valiantly tries to get out of it, crossing paths, at the end of the first act, with a real historical figure: Dagmar Overbye, a notorious serial killer of infants in Denmark (Trine Dyrholm, discovered in Family party/Festensteals the show).

The trouble is that this other story of thwarted emancipation rings false, between heavy solemnity and borrowed dramatic springs. Magnus von Horn inflicts so many trials, torments and humiliations on his protagonist that he sinks into absurd one-upmanship.

Here, miserabilism is present, and “aestheticized” into the bargain. This, by means of bombastic compositions, a mannered black and white photo direction, and small experimental touches.

As much Rough diamond lives up to its title and exudes authenticity, as much The young woman with the needle is a poseur – for a bit, one would believe in an involuntary parody of Béla Tarr (The Werckmeister Harmonies/Werckmeister Harmoniák ; The Turin Horse/In Torinói ló).

In short, Agathe Riedinger manages to convince and move people where Magnus von Horn seems rather to make himself believe.

François Lévesque is in Cannes at the invitation of the festival and thanks to the support of Telefilm Canada.

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