Eye For Film >> Movies >> Falcon Lake (2022) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Going on holiday with parents who are wrapped up in their own experiences can feel like being a ghost. Adolescence can inspire similar feelings. Bastien (Joseph Engel) is old enough to get along with older kids, old enough to experience sexual desire, but not able to compete with kids just a few years older whose bodies now look adult. An intense bond with the older Chloé (Sara Montpetit) seems to welcome him into the adult world, yet when she looks away, when she gives her attention to somebody else, it’s like he doesn’t exist.
“A boy drowned in the wild part of the lake,” claims Chloé, who likes telling ghost stories. Is it childish to make things up? She isn’t fully adult yet. There are things she doesn’t feel ready for, despite what the older boys want. Surrounded by trees, the lake makes a good setting for fantasies of various kinds. Bastien doesn’t like to go in the water, telling her that he almost drowned when he was younger, yet she is determined to overcome his fear, to persuade him to extend his boundaries, part supportive friend and part siren. When she gets changed, she makes him turn his back. “I’ve seen breasts before,” he says, matter of factly. “You have to earn them,” she responds.
In lesser hands, Chloé would have been all beauty, mystique and otherness, but first time director Charlotte Le Bon brings out the awkwardness of teenage experience in her too. As they get to know each other, she gradually confesses some of her insecurities to Bastien, and her erratic behaviour begins to make more sense to him. She takes him along when hanging out with the older boys, who offer beer and roll-ups. He’s shy, but to everyone’s surprise, he can dance, and this, together with a willingness to take them seriously which they’re unlikely to encounter elsewhere, makes the boys like him. The danger of this is that he risks being absorbed into some of their toxic patterns of behaviour.
Chloé likes certain childlike – or simply more honest – aspects of who he is, perhaps because she’s struggling to hold onto those elements in herself. She dresses him up in bedsheets and photographs him beside the lake, creating ‘proof’ of her ghost. Meanwhile the adults, who seem completely unaware of the potential tensions caused by giving them a room to share (along with his little brother Titi, played by Thomas Laperierre), busy themselves with rowdy conversation, playing music and drinking copious amounts of wine. Seated on the outskirts of their conversations, Bastien and Chloé catch one another’s eyes, sharing secret knowledge.
All of this is going somewhere – there is, as at the start of some relationships, a sense that it has already happened – but Le Bon’s world is so intimately constructed that it’s easy to be immersed in the present moment, as the characters are, and lose sight of the rest. Wonderfully detailed set dressing fills the holiday home with the paraphernalia which speaks of past visits to this place, of hobbies picked up and abandoned, family activities gradually set aside as the kids have grown up. The humidity rising off the lake makes the air shimmer, a soft haze of light, adding to the sense of directionlessness which conceals the film’s inevitable momentum. Love likes to pretend that time does not exist. Chloé likes to pretend that she can see through time, or glimpse something beyond the mundane world. Perhaps it’s true.Reviewed on: 01 Jun 2023