The middle-aged titular heroine (Masiero) of this bare-bones, Dardenne-esque debut has certainly fallen on hard times: Living between her car and a storage shed, working a part-time job as a hotel chambermaid, and trying against all odds to obtain public housing, Louise scrapes by on a day-to-day subsistence that’s only a few Euros away from skid row.
It’s a mystery why exactly John (Paul Higgins) and Karen (Kate Dickie) have renounced civilization in order to live like feral creatures in a dirt cave in the woods. John hunts rabbits with his bare hands, and when such riches are unavailable, the pair sustain themselves on insects.
But when a poisonous spider bites Karen, John breaks their self-imposed isolation to get help. This leads him to befriend local farmer Andre (Jérôme Kircher), who becomes suspiciously over-invested in the pair’s wellbeing. As the couple’s backstory unfolds, an impending sense of doom casts a pall over their small world. The seeming serenity of the forest is revealed to be as fragile and unstable as the characters, who, it becomes apparent, are on the brink of rupturing with violent emotion.
Like the stolen car he is driving in circles, Chérif’s life is going nowhere in a hurry. When he is arrested for the umpteenth time, Chérif’s exasperated mother strikes a last-chance deal with a judge to send the troubled juvenile to live quietly with his aunt and uncle in Strasbourg, and attend vocational school to learn a good trade, like masonry. Chérif’s earnest attempt to go straight is sending him directly to the doldrums, until he discovers that his even straighter-laced cousin Thomas is actually part of a local gang of taggers called ORK, who roam the Strasbourg night bombing walls and overpasses in the shadow of a mysterious tagger whose death-defying works have made him a legend. [Synopsis courtesy of COLCOA]
Like the titular song by Leonard Cohen, Suzanne is ultimately about a state of mind, a study in finding a sliver of grace amongst the heaps of garbage life can throw at you. Suzanne is close to her family, but between her widower father and her quiet sister, she is the troublemaker of the bunch. Restless and quixotic, her forgiving family endlessly endures the consequences of her dreams, her whims, and her bad choices. Largely set in 1990s Marseilles, the story elliptically pogo-dances through 25 years of Suzanne’s turbulent life: childhood, early pregnancy, single parenting, and above all, her driving love for an aspiring bad boy. [Synopsis courtesy of COLCOA]