The Divide


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

The Divide
"Corsini agilely combines elements of cinéma verité and farce." | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

The horrors of the Korean war field hospital in M*A*S*H flashed immediately to mind watching Catherine Corsini’s The Divide, set over one night in the emergency department of a Parisian hospital in the aftermath of a Yellow Vests (gilets jaunts) protests.

Corsini agilely combines elements of cinéma verité and farce, turning a relentless gaze on France’s political and economic woes under the reign of President Macron and the overworked and under-resourced hospital staff trying to cope in the worst of all possible worlds. At one point patients are locked out from treatment because of the chaos inside.

The interaction between the neatly drawn characters provides much of the narrative thrust including Valerie Bruni Tedeschi as a comic book artist with a cracked elbow, Marina Foïs as her on-off long-time partner and Pia Marmaï as a protesting trucker with shrapnel in his blood-soaked leg, who harbours an innocent idea that Macron might come out to hear of their woes directly.

Newcomer Aissatou Diallo Sagna (a real-life hospital worker) is impressive as the nurse who makes desperate efforts to cope with this seething mass of humanity, including her baby daughter showing up with her father’s arms and displaying signs of high fever.

From the images here (and from such films as Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables last year), France looks like a country on the brink of civil war that cuts across classes and even generations.

Corsini has a reputation for her portraits of female protagonists in various intimate relationship dramas such as Summertime and The New Eve. Here she directs at a breakneck pace and spares none of her political punches as we watch the impossibly burdened health workers trying to clear up the mess of heavy-handed policing and a seemingly uncaring Government.

This critic has no qualms in signalling that so far it is one of the best French films of the year.

Reviewed on: 05 Sep 2021
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Two women on the verge of a breakup, in a hospital, are further stressed on the night of a big demonstration by the overwhelmed staff and by angry, injured protestors who land up besieging the building.

Director: Catherine Corsini

Writer: Catherine Corsini, Agnès Feuvre, Laurette Polmanss

Starring: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Marina Foïs, Pio Marmaï, Jean-Louis Coulloc'h

Year: 2021

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: France

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