French film, 1 h 25
The brother and sister reunited for the first time in front of and behind the camera. This is the beautiful story of the film Eleonore, first feature film that Amro, trained in the United States and former assistant to Michel Gondry, wrote for Nora, 9 years his junior for, he says, “ show other facets of his work never seen before “.
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Noted in recent years for her rather convincing appearances as actresses in Double lives by Olivier Assayas and Alice and the mayor by Nicolas Pariser, the humorist occupies all the space here and brings his naturalness and a kind of nonchalant grace to his character of Éléonore.
At 34, this young woman who dreams of herself as a novelist lifts her discomfort and her eternal adolescent look between her tiny studio in Belleville and a poorly paid job in a coffee shop chain. At the time of the assessments, and after yet another love affair without a future, depression awaits Éléonore.
Incomplete and vulnerable, she ends up giving in to the injunctions of her sister and her mother to fall back into the ranks of a bourgeois life, work and husband to the key. Éléonore’s attempt to transform herself overnight into a dynamic young assistant to a publisher of erotic literature, high heels and short dresses, provides all the salt of this quirky comedy.
A generation in search of identity and benchmarks
With this chronicle more melancholy than funny, Amro Hamzawi – screenwriter of 20 years apart – clearly seems to be eyeing the side of a certain independent American cinema a la Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig (France Ha) made up of strolls in the streets of Paris, of constant chatter and of festive scenes where Éléonore vainly seeks her rightful place. It is about a generation in need of identity and benchmarks, in a world formatted by their parents, in which they do not recognize themselves and do not manage to flourish.
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It is, moreover, the director’s very good idea to confront his heroine with the representatives of this world before embodied here by a mother, a great bourgeois confident of herself and her tastes, of a sister who compelled to do everything right – marriage and children – and a macho and tyrannical publisher. They provide the material for beautiful supporting roles to formidable actors, Dominique Reymond and André Marcon at the head, who give all its depth to the film.
Behind Éléonore’s procrastination, it is the latter’s flaws and unfulfilled desires which are revealed little by little and free the young woman from the shackles she had hitherto imposed on herself. Nora Hamzawi takes on, without apparent effort, the clothes of this desperate thirty-something, both funny and pathetic, and despite some awkwardness of realization, attaches us with subtlety to her character of Éléonore.