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Jeune Femme (dir. Serraille)

Image: Laetitia Dosch in Jeune femme [Source: IMDB]

 ★★★★☆

In the wake of a troublesome yet humbling break up, Paula (Letitia Dosch) becomes emotionally and financially unstable. Finding herself effectively homeless in the indifferent cityscape of Paris, she steals her boyfriend’s cat and sets out to build a life for herself. Coming up against the dispassionate feelings of loved ones she has left behind and the everyday struggle to support yourself – Paris has never felt so cold.

Director: Leonor Serraille. Starring: Letitia Dosch, Souleymane Seye Ndiaye, Léonie Simaga [15]

Serraille makes an attractive and enticing directional debut, played with openness and all the familiar stylings of the new-wave. Characters feel genuine and the relationships discovered along the way build with authenticity. Notably, Letitia Dosch expresses her character’s emotions with clarity and a fascinating appeal, each moment we know exactly how Paula is feeling and what she is thinking. It’s believable but more importantly, carries each and every scene as we see Paula slowly regain her emotional armour, making the journey with this character a fulfilling one.

While the complexities of the internal struggle of this character are orchestrated brilliantly, it is the wider statements and issues, such as the lies and deceptions made by Paula. That fall short and fail to offer any kind of grounded drama, instead most are played for a moment’s tension before forgotten. These weak moments deriving from the middling second act. Much like Paula for the central part of the film, it lazily drifts from scene to scene with very little happening in terms of character development and story. But there is always just looking at the delightful cat while the film figures out where it is going.

Still, each and every scene holds a strange sort of raw tenacity of the mundane. At its best, these moments give us a deeper insight and connection to Paula and perhaps Paris itself. The stark colours of Paris constructed by the vibrancy of Paula, her struggle never feeling more real and holding the audience’s sympathy with a vice-like grip. There is plenty to be said of Jeune Femme, the plight of emotional and financial struggle, cities and their indifference. But most importantly Jeune Femme is about independence and making something for yourself, whether it be building relationships, repairing them or knowing when to cut them off. While it often does not go all the way with its comments and depictions. Serraille shows an understanding, unpresuming and ultimately sincere tale of Paula, young people and relationships.

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