It is in a flawless regularity, a film every two or three years, that the furrow of the Belgian filmmaker Joachim Lafosse has been dug. It is within the family that he builds most of his stories, with very remarkable strokes, such as To lose reason, in 2012, or The couple’s economy, in 2016. The recipe is very often the same, to examine an a priori stable family structure, to detect its faults, to enlarge them and to reveal them naked, until the almost programmed destruction. In official competition at the 74th Cannes Film Festival, The unquiet takes up these elements around the mental illness of which a father is struck, preventing him from functioning.
Damien Bonnard and Leïla Bekhti play a couple, he painter, she restorer of antique furniture, who raises their son Amine while immersing themselves with passion in their respective profession. The first long scene of the film exposes all the problems of this family, a real house of cards threatening to collapse at every moment. Damien is caught in a manic frenzy, headlong rush that he can’t stop. This succession of events is exhausting, we follow the uninterrupted activity of this man who no longer sleeps, does not stop, until he sinks and finds himself in a psychiatric hospital. His illness takes time to be named, bipolarity, and yet we quickly understand the issues and the undersides of it.
Painter, Damien needs to be put under pressure, to work urgently, a lot, late at night, often without stopping to sleep. Joachim Lafosse recounts in several stages how this life gradually dissolves each member of the plot, becoming incapable of functioning, of carrying out their daily lives. From an idyllic location by the sea, the fact that we are already in the last act of a well-damaged story is revealed. Every friend, relative, knows the situation and worries about a possible relapse, inevitable, of a man who refuses to take his treatment, frightening to his son, caught in the middle of a storm that he does not understand. not.
Tension is the element that holds the whole story together, never releasing its suffocating grip. Where in some of his previous films we could feel variations of tones, scenes of joy cutting through difficult moments, in The unquiet, Joachim Lafosse never slows down his pace. The character of Damien contaminates the space in a floating worry visible first in the eyes and body of Leïla, completely exhausted, no longer able to trust him until she even develops what could pass for paranoia. .
It is no longer bodies that we are scrutinizing here, it is nothing more than ashes, almost already cooled, so much the fire has already burned up ahead of what is being told. The couple’s love is gone, diluted in too much pain and unmanageable moments. This twilight of the loves of a couple who loved each other and to found strong projects together is heartbreaking. The external element which destroys them, as often in Lafosse’s filmography, is external to their own feelings. The fury of these manic episodes shown on camera is almost an element of dread. What the staging manages to create crescendo is quite exceptional in terms of thoroughness and application in the construction of the sequences..
We must salute the performances of the actors of the film who carried very strongly a subject and a very complex playing requirement. Joachim Lafosse succeeds beyond his intentions, further anchoring his story in the news of the pandemic, The unquiet being one of the first fiction films to include masks and its issues at the heart of the story. It is a cut and quality stone added by the Belgian filmmaker in a filmography which already houses a very beautiful house founded on solid foundations..
(to come up)
October 20, 2021 – By Joachim Lafosse, with Leïla Bekhti, Damien Bonnard