Le Chignon d'Olga

Le Chignon d'Olga


Reviewed by: David Stanners

Julien (Hubert Benhamdine) is a teenager, mesmerised by the beauty of Olga (Delphine Rollin), a bookkeeper he glimpsed one day. He continues to fantasise about her, meeting his dancer friend Alice (Nathalie Boutefeu) and generally bumming around between his home in the country and the local town.

Like himself, his family's lives are a bit dishevelled. His sister Emma (Florence Loiret) is coming to terms with her sexuality; his father (Serge Riaboukine) is a struggling children's writer, trying to hold everything together single handed; Basile (Antoine Goldet) is the young nephew, obsessed with Charlie Chaplin in The Circus. They're all very different, but the underlying common denominator is the death of their mother/wife.

A tragic sense of grief, depression and insecurity pervades the household, raising elements of vulnerability and confusion. Twentysomething French director Jerome Bonnell displays incredible maturity beyond his years. With an obvious nose for human sensibility, he has created a deeply emotional tableau by developing all his characters credibly and at length. What makes it work is the comedy. For Bonnell, humour is as important as pain and the perfect antidote to everyday troubles. Refusing to cry itself under the table, there are some very funny moments in this film, particularly Julien's ineptitude when attempting to seduce Olga.

The acting is spot on. Naturalistic and unforced, each character is played with sufficient poise, often understated and enigmatic by nature. The relationship between Alice and Julien grows more interesting as it develops and the father's anti-heroic attempts at living his own life, while caring for his disjointed family, reflect the mercurial nature of dealing with loss.

At times the structure is a bit flaccid, dripping nonchalantly from one level to the next and occasionally losing its thread. But, for the most part, Bonnell succeeds in wiring together life on a tightrope, with anger and confusion one side and love and laughter the other.

Reviewed on: 11 Aug 2003
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Introspective drama focusing on the trials and tribulations of a family.
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Director: Jerome Bonnell

Starring: Hubert Benhamdine, Nathalie Boutefeu, Serge Riaboukine, Florence Loiret Caille, Delphine Rollin

Year: 2002

Runtime: 96 minutes

Country: France


EIFF 2003

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