a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Versailles

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A clear-eyed, if somewhat didactic gaze, is given to the homeless and marginal of France in Pierre Schöller ‘s strong debut, Versailles. Opening in the hard streets of Paris, a mother, Nina (Judith Chemla) and her small son, Enzo (Max Baissette de Malglaive) find brief refuge in a homeless shelter near Versailles. Attempting to escape the red tape that would separate them, they enter the woods near the great palace where they meet Damien (Guillaume Depardieu), a recovering addict and ex-con, living in a makeshift shelter. Nina disappears to find work, leaving Enzo in Damien’s reluctant care. The story turns to Damien’s relationship with Enzo. Putting a gloss on the need for self-reliance against an interfering state, Schöller gives emotional form to a social libertarian argument. Max Baissette de Malglaive melts one’s heart with his wide-eyed blank slate performance. Depardieu’s penultimate performance is pitch perfect, capturing a sensitive, rebellious and troubled man coming to terms with responsibility. In a scene where he struggles with pneumonia, Depardieu prefigures his own passing last year from the same disease.

 

Originally published in EL Magazine, May 2009

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Written by Nicholas Vroman

May 1, 2009 at 12:03 am

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