Thursday, March 30, 2023

Film, kids and attempted authenticity


The French film The Worst Ones raises questions about how far filmmakers should go in trying for authenticity, particularly when their work involves young people. Directors Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret cast real kids for a movie about a filmmaker (Johan Heldenbergh) who's trying to capture life among teenagers in the Picasso neighborhood of a town in northern France.  Forget Paris glamor; this town is full of housing projects and folks who’ll never be living upscale lives. Heldenbergh's Gabriel wants to make a tough film called Pissing in the North Wind. He's looking for the kind of teens who cause trouble. As it turns out, the film is less interested in the town’s teenagers than in the director's ideas about who they are. Independent and assertive, the director wants to show that Lily (Mallory Wanecque) is pregnant. She's not. Ryan (Timeo Mahaut) is asked to scowl and fight. He can’t suppress his smile. Jessy (Loic Pech), a real-life wise-ass, is pushed into a love scene. Melina Vanderplancke's Maylis doesn't like the idea of being on camera. The movie’s young cast gets to you,  and The Worst Ones' film-within-a-film approach proves more revealing than gimmicky.

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