Lesson intraquills.

    Lots of good movies this week, Berend Jan. What do we start with?

    ‘I want to start with Lesson intranquilles (★★★★☆, 117 min.). Maker Joachim Lafosse, a Walloon, is very good at directing family dramas that grab you by the throat. For this film, he was inspired by his own past and in particular by his father, who had bipolar disorder. In Lesson intranquilles we see a man with such a disorder, who sometimes has a kind of manic energy and then is deeply depressed again.

    ‘The first scene is directly illustrative of his restless nature, to which the title refers. He is sailing with his son and then suddenly dives into the water. To his son, who is about 6 years old, he says: you must sail back now, because I am going swimming. A rather bizarre and irresponsible situation.

    ‘As the film progresses, those situations become more and more painful – and more dangerous. As a viewer you always have the feeling that things can get out of hand. Therein lies Lafosse’s strength: he really makes you feel that restlessness. That’s because of the excellent playing of protagonist Damien Bonnard, but also in the restless camera work. You almost crawl into his head and feel that unrest that has penetrated into the fibers of the film.

    ‘The question that the film raises is whether it is possible to live with such a man, and what the behavior of one person does to the rest of the family. As a viewer you have to cross a threshold, but that’s a good thing: uncomfortable stories must also be told.’

    What other movie do you recommend?

    There’s No Evil (★★★★☆, 151 min.), by director Mohammad Rasoulof. I mention him in particular here, because he is perhaps the most outspoken Iranian filmmaker to criticize the regime. He was arrested last month, now he has to serve a prison sentence of one year. Almost all of his films are about resisting something bigger than the individual, and how the individual is either completely crushed by it, or manages to stand up.

    ‘This film is about the death penalty, which is in full force in Iran. We see four stories of four so-called executioners. In doing so, Rasoulof – and I find this interesting – does not criticize the death penalty through the stories of victims, but shows from the perspective of the executioners, those who have to carry out executions, how entire families are being disrupted by the Iranian regime.

    ‘In the first story, for example, we see a decent bourgeois man who at the end of the day, after eating dinner with his family and helping his wife dye her hair, goes to work on death row. With the push of a button, he then lets a row of hanged people die. An almost mechanical act, this is simply his job.

    ‘In the other stories, on the other hand, people are discussed who do dare to ask questions about this system. They try to escape their responsibility and see, in a roundabout way, what the ultimate effect of their actions can be. Rasoulof himself called it the beauty of resistance in interviews. You can indeed be critical of the country you live in, even if you pay a high price for it, as Rasoulof unfortunately experienced himself recently. That makes There’s No Evil so strong: the film shows a wealth of perspectives and does not accuse the individual, but the system in which people have to act.’

    Other top films that can also be seen:

    In Clara Sola (Nathalie Álvarez Mesén, ★★★★☆, 106 min.) a story unfolds about a woman who struggles to escape an oppressive environment. Clara, in her forties with the spirit of a child, is permanently enchanted by her immediate environment. She seems to identify herself on a deeper level with the surrounding flora and fauna. ‘Through Clara’s gaze, director Álvarez Mesén constantly lets her film float a bit’, writes Berend Jan Bockting in his review.

    In the successful French coming of age drama Mes frères, et moi (Yohan Manca, ★★★★☆, 108 min.) 14-year-old Nour interrupts his summer community service because he is touched by the sounds streaming in from the music room. While Nour is constantly hounded at home – his dying mother is on a ventilator – he can let the music carry him away in opera singer Sarah’s class. ‘The end result is a compelling, raw and realistic fairy tale that cleverly keeps itself in check’, writes Kevin Toma.