A Radiant Girl – International Critics’ Week 2021 – Solzy at the Movies

Posted By on July 11, 2021

A Radiant Girl (Une jeune fille qui va bien) takes place in occupied France during 1942 but the film takes a unique approach to the Shoah.

There are so many stories about the Shoah. When it comes to young women, Anne Franks story is a big one. But for Jews living in France, The Journal of Hlne Berr is also of prominence. This book is also listed in the credits and regrettably, this week is the first Ive heard of it. Anyway, these books help set the tone for what life was life for teenagers during the era. When it comes to the film itself, filmmaker Sandrine Kiberlain imagines what life was like for her grandparents in 1942. Her parents wanted to be actors and of course, Kiberlain is also an actress. This film marks her feature debut and ultimately, its about a young woman wanting to become an actress. The Nazi occupation of France just happens to be used as the backdrop. More on this in a few.

Irene (Rebecca Marder) is a 19-year-old young Jewish woman living in Paris. Her family has a close watch on her especially with everything going on around. Things might not appear serious at first. Knowing what we know about France in 1942, you cant help but feel for her father, Andr (Andr Marcon). Andr has a different sensibility than either of Irenes grandmothers, one of whom is Marceline (Franoise Widhoff). This is especially true when we see Andrs anger on display when Irene comes home late one night. Its an era without cell phones, yes, but because of the Nazis, Jews couldnt own any phones. No contact with the outside world. The other thing is Irenes frequent fainting. Is this because of anxiety over what is going on? Possibly.

Irene puts a lot of her effort into landing an audition. At the same time, shes also falling in love with Jacques (Cyril Metzger) after they meet at a doctors office. It might end up being a doomed relationship but we do not know. Time will tell what happens but for now, Irene just wants to live her life without any fear. Fear may be lurking around the corner but this film takes a unique approach in that regard. Her brother, Igor (Anthony Bajon), doesnt get as much screen time but theres one musical scene here that offers some liveliness during an era of pending doom. Kiberlain makes sure to honor the Righteous Among the Nations. This tribute comes by way of a neighbor, Josiane (Florence Viala).

Sandrine Kiberlain takes an approach to Shoah era films that we rarely see on screen. While we dont see the Shoah in all of its horror and atrocities, Kiberlain offers audiences just a mere glimpse into Jewish life. Obviously, its looming in the background but the antisemitism is especially prominent in some scenes. Nothing like people giving Irene stares or turning her away because shes Jewish! Even though we dont see the SS, Nazi flags, or raids, audiences will still be able to feel the tension coming through the screen. This is certainly a choice that other filmmakers might not make. Because of this, the focus is allowed to remain on Irene, her family, and friends. Theres rarely a moment where the camera isnt following Irene around.

Rebecca Marder is marvelous in the leading role of Irene and delivers a star-making performance in A Radiant Girl. I imagine its only a matter of time before Marder becomes the next European actress to breakthrough into American cinema. This isnt a matter of if but when.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Sandrine KiberlainCAST: Rebecca Marder,Andr Marcon,Anthony Bajon,Franoise Widhoff, India Hair,Florence Viala,Ben Attal,Cyril Metzger,Jean Chevalier


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A Radiant Girl - International Critics' Week 2021 - Solzy at the Movies

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