Brigitte

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Brigitte
"The revelations may not be earth shattering on either side of the camera, but they are honest are delivered with the intimacy of a secret."

This crisply shot monochrome short from Lynne Ramsay has a shifting focus befitting of a film about someone who spends much of her life behind a lens. New York-based French photographer Brigitte Lacombe not only shoots in black and white but also wears "a uniform" of black short and skirt with sensible sandals to capture the portrait pictures she is famed for and examples of which appear in the film.

The film is part of fashion brand Miu Miu's series of Women's Tales but, as you might expect from Ramsay, it is not a chapter and verse guide to Lacombe's career but an immersive and often emotional snapshot. She captures the photographer at work, but also through interviews in which she discusses her work and her family relationships, particularly with her sister Marian, who is a documentary maker herself.

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There's an obvious rapport between Ramsay and Lacombe, perhaps stemming from their own ways of seeing but extending beyond that. "It all comes by doing it again," Lacombe tells her, something that Ramsay herself no doubt experiences on the sets of her films.

Ramsay is both portrait maker and subject here. We see her edging closer with the camera - mostly held by her regular cinematographer Thomas Townend - as Lacombe takes photos and encourages her to pose in certain ways. She tells Ramsay there's a sweet spot for her subjects between "tension and relaxation" and that having her subjects feel "grounded" is important. Later, in among the various subjects having their photos taken, we see Ramsay and her partner and daughter pose for photographs with Townend's drifting camera balancing the stasis of the still photography at the film's heart.

The revelations may not be earth shattering on either side of the camera, but they are honest are delivered with the intimacy of a secret.

Reviewed on: 07 Jul 2020
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Portrait of photographer Brigitte Lacombe.

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Writer: Lynne Ramsay

Starring: Brigitte Lacombe, Marian Lacombe, Lynne Ramsay

Year: 2019

Runtime: 30 minutes

Country: Italy, UK

Festivals:

Doc/Fest 2020

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