“Under the Wind of the Marquesas”, François Damiens gives up playing Jacques Brel to save the relationship with his daughter

“Sous le vent des Marquises” modestly addresses a relationship between an actor and his daughter, echoing the story and the words of Jacques Brel.

France Télévisions – Culture Editorial


Reading time: 3 min

François Damiens in the film "Leeward of the Marquesas" by Pierre Godeau, released January 31, 2024. (PAN DISTRIBUTION)

After an adaptation of Sempé’s album Raoul Taburinin 2019, with Benoît Poelvoorde, Pierre Godeau features in an original script another Belgian actor, a favorite of French cinema, François Damiens, in the role of an actor overwhelmed by his mission to play Jacques Brel on screen, and by his health concerns. Leeward of the Marquesasthe fourth very personal feature film from the director of Juliet (2013) andHead over heels (2016) releases in theaters on January 31, 2024.

Alain (François Damiens), a renowned Belgian actor, plays the role of Jacques Brel in a biopic dedicated to the singer. But he struggles to feel comfortable in the role of this singing icon. The filming is tense. When the doctor tells Alain that his cancer requires an operation, he chooses not to seek treatment and leaves the shoot unexpectedly to join Lou (Salomé Dewaels)his daughter, whom he has always neglected, and who lives on a Breton island with her mother.

With this new film, Pierre Godeau addresses the question of paternity and filiation, in a celebrity context. Alain is a well-known actor, he has devoted his entire life to his art, to his profession, and he has difficulty understanding his daughter, who lives on an island, isolated from the world, with the sole ambition of resuming the oyster farm. from his stepfather while helping his mother manage the guest rooms of the family home.

The young woman does not take well to the untimely return of a father who has so far been absent from the radar. She was built without him, and welcomes him with coldness. These are two worlds at odds that clash and the connection between father and daughter has difficulty operating.

Mise en abyme

It is finally by reading the script of the film that her father abandoned, and through the words of Jacques Brel, that the young woman gradually becomes closer to her father. By projecting himself into the story of the last years of the singer’s life, when he left everything behind to go around the world on a sailboat with his daughter, Lou projects an idealized relationship with his father…

In a game of staging and mise en abyme, which navigates between the two characters and between two stories which echo each other, the director modestly tells us the story of a reconciliation and, in a certain way, that of the late birth of a father.

François Damiens and Salomé Dewaels in the film

Initially a hindrance, the cinema, at the heart of the film, ultimately reveals itself to be a meeting point between father and daughter, and for her a window open to other possibilities. A scenario inspired by the personal story of the director, Pierre Godeau, himself the son of a film producer and director.

The film, which constantly balances between reality and fiction, between reverie and naturalism, is largely composed of dialogue scenes, where the words, those of Brel, taken from the archives or scenes from the film in preparation, and those of the characters, intertwine, collide, overlap, repeat, respond between the two stories, between the two temporalities, moving the plot forward, and bringing the two protagonists closer together.

Salomé Dewaels in the film

The film appears in this respect as a hymn to dialogue, deployed like a time machine. We almost never leave the two actors in the picture, François Damiens, always very precise in bringing out humanity where we least expect it, and the young Belgian actress Salomé Dewaels, with a magnetic presence.

A reflection on filiation, this film also questions through the destiny of Brel, and that more contemporary of Alain, on the celebrity, and the relationship to the intimate, family life of those who are thrown into the spotlight and adored by fans. The film takes its time to gently lead us towards an outcome imbued with mixed joy and melancholy, which catches us, even if it is expected.

Movie poster

The sheet

Gender : Drama
Director: Pierre Godeau
Actors: François Damiens, Salomé Dewaels, Roman Kolinka
Country : France
Duration :
Exit :
January 31, 2024
Distributer :
Pan Distribution
Synopsis : When Alain has to play Brel, his destiny mixes with that of the artist. This meeting will bring him closer to his daughter and turn his life upside down.

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