There is just something about French films. If you will pardon my French, a little je ne sais quoi about them. Even if they aren’t great they are highly watchable still. It is a nation which takes filmmaking very seriously. They put time, effort and resources into it. And, in my opinion, it shows.
Justine Triet’s (In Bed With Victoria, Age of Panic) Sibyl is not a great film, but I still loved it. Make sense? It is possible to admit that a film is not exactly a work of art and yet still be entertained by it. Case and point Sibyl.
After the breakup of a relationship and alcohol taking over her life, Sibyl (Virginie Efira – Elle, Un Amour Impossible) has set things right. She is the mother of two and in a steady relationship. Also, she has returned to working as a psychotherapist. Just when things seem really great she announces to Etienne (Paul Hamy – 9 Doigts, Suzanne) that she is going to give up most of her clients to try writing again. Writing a novel.
As she is beginning this transition, she gets a call on her cell one night. It is a woman and she is in distress. She has been given Sibyl number by a hospital as an emergency contact. Sibyl is sympathetic, but tells her she is no longer seeing patients and can refer her to someone else. She hangs up, but the phone keeps on ringing.
Breaking down, Sibyl has obviously agreed to see the woman. Her name is Margot (Adele Exarchopoulos – Blue is the Warmest Colour, Orphan) and she is a young actress. Margot tells Sibyl that she is working on a film and is having an affair with a big name male star (Gaspard Ulliel – A Very Long Engagement, Hannibal Rising), who is her co star, and his partner is the director of the film. Sticky situation!
Intrigued, Sibyl begins recording the sessons and using them to write her novel with. A serious no no. She becomes obsessed with the story. The more she writes, the more material she need and the deeper she becomes entwined in Margot’s life.
All this is bringing up memories of the man she was in a relationship with when she was writing and drinking, Gabriel (Niels Schneider – Les Amours Imaginaires, Diamant Noir). We find out he is the father of her first child. These memories make things even more unstable.
After screening this spring at Cannes, Sibyl was then at TIFF. Though it is kinda like a soap opera in regards to the story, it is still a film with merit. The psychodrama is the second time Efira and Triet have worked together and there obviously is a trust between the two. Efira demonstrates herself capable of more than just comedy. Here she has to be funny, sexy, distressed, sad, and strong. A full rainbow of emotions.
Special nod to supporting actress Sandra Huller (Toni Erdmann, Requiem), who is a scream in her turn as the director, who knows her partner is having an affair with her lead actress, but just wants to complete the film. She is a woman on edge. Constantly blowing up. Plenty of scene munching in her time on screen.