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Catherine Corsini La Fracture Review

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La Fracture | 2021 Cannes Film Festival Review

La Fracture | 2021 Cannes Film Festival Review

Conqueror Worms: Corsini Juggles Metaphors in Strangely Asymmetrical Social Issue Film

Director Catherine Corsini metastasizes an ensemble exercise for her eleventh feature, La Fracture, a black comedy social issue film. Marrying hot button issues, such as France’s troubled healthcare system and contemporary political crises, then transposing them onto a handful of superficial characterizations serving as mouth pieces, it plays like the academic’s version of an episodic hospital television series. While it features a highly notable cast, many of whom are performing in ways suggesting they’re each in different films, Corsini’s definitive choices of her metaphorical divide does indeed create a continually jarring effect on the audience as well as her narrative.

Julie (Marina Fois) and Raphaelle (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) are poised for a break-up, this time for real. But when Raphaelle falls and breaks her arm chasing after Julie on the street, she ends up in a bustling, understaffed ER. As they await various stages of her visit, a host of other injured people are admitted thanks to a nearby worker’s demonstration wherein the police viciously attacked many attendees, including driver Yann (Pio Marmai). Between staff and patients, classes, genders, sexual orientations and political views, France, at least according to this zany night at the hospital, is a country divided.

Perhaps we can blame Maiwenn for her 2011 title Poliss (or at least the applause the film received) for a glut of montage heavy, perilously earnest intersectional narratives from France over the past decade speaking to heavy realities of a politically divided country. Likewise, the hospital, including specific various parts of this healthcare locus, is rife for the utilization of this epicenter which allows for countless transitory characters and endless storylines. To her credit, Corsini is trying something new with a zany tone, and the dark underlinings poking through the veneer of comedy are reminiscent of Arthur Hiller’s 1971 classic, The Hospital, featuring George C. Scott. However, the distorting left turns into uncomfortable slapstick, particularly with the central lesbian couple played by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Marina Foi, opening the film in an unwieldy argument (the rhythm of which seems to be their love language), while more unpredictable than much of the more on-the-nose exchanges with the demonstrators (Pio Marmai is presented as ludicrously over-the-top), never stimulates any kind of intelligent engagement. Tedeschi feels particularly shrill (another version of her wackadoo in Paolo Virzi’ Like Crazy, 2016), so goofball in some sequences this plays like an homage to Jerry Lewis.

While not to suggest the narrative’s idea is unwarranted, the script from Corsini, Agnes Feuvre, and Laurette Polmanas requires a smarter dash of subversion than this ineffective exercise. While Corsini and her actors seem to be in on the joke of the ridiculousness of Raphaelle and Julie (think Sandra Bullock in 2004’s Crash as comedy clowns) since we’re meant to juxtapose their privilege against various cohorts during one incredibly disastrous night at l’hopital, the sharp points of these various fractures creates a heavy sack of broken bones. On the technical side, DP Jeanne Lapoirie (Verhoeven’s Benedetta) and editor Frederic Baillehaiche (Party Girl, 2014) should be commended for the impressive look and flow of the environment in an otherwise interesting idea most potent when it prizes subtlety over screams.

Reviewed on July 9th at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival – Main Competition. 98 Mins


★★/☆☆☆☆☆

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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