a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman


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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


Written by Nicholas Vroman

May 1, 2009 at 12:03 am

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