Interview with the beloved French actress James Bond Lea Seydoux I asked why the Metoo case is viewed differently in France than in the United States. “Because we French do not like to make sacrifices ourselves. We do not see the world in black and white. We do not divide everything into bright colors of good and evil. America is different. Here, black and white have them and she replied, ‘A stronger colour.’ In the United States, they like a clear division. And in France, we look at the complexities of life.”
I remembered this conversation when I saw The Accused. The words of the actress who works in Hollywood and France perfectly explain the meaning of the new film of the conqueror Caesar Ivan Atali. The film about the trial of the son of an influential journalist accused of rape is a multidimensional view of the sexual harassment of women. It’s also a story with a distinctly personal touch. The main male role is Ben Attal, the son of the director and actress Charlotte GainsburgWho, in turn, plays the role of his screen mother. Thanks to this risky procedure, we get a unique emotional charge and chemistry between mother and son from the very beginning. We know Gainsbourg, better known from von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac,” is not afraid of any acting challenges. He also won this time.
Alexandre Ferral (Ben Attal) is accused of rape by his friend Maël (Suzanne Joinet). The case is so difficult that Alexander’s mother – Claire (Ginsburg) – is related to the girl’s father, Adam (Matthew Kasowitz). Alexander and Mile come from completely different backgrounds. I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home. He is the representative of the liberal, sexually liberated Parisian elite. Alexander is a student at Stanford University of California. The world of Silicon Valley is open to him. He came to Paris to attend the awards ceremony for his father (Pierre Ardette), a well-known and respected journalist, the Legion of Honor. The father is famous for many romantic relationships in which he does not hide. The accusation of raping his son comes at a time when feminist activist Claire has replaced the right hand of Marie Le Pen. All because it draws attention to the problem of rape perpetrated by immigrants who avoid merging with French values. In a debate with another feminist, he is heard to be a racist in focusing on the rape of minorities rather than the patriarchy of white and wealthy French. That’s when her white and distinguished son was arrested for rape.
What happened on the way to the party? Who is right when there are no witnesses to the event and everything is based on words against the word? The procedure was carried over thirty months ago—right into the courtroom, where we became spectators of a legal spectacle that persuades us to be right on one side or the other. However, The Accused, like most Hollywood productions Accused and MeToo, is not about sexual harassment. Among the many films, it was the fantastic “Assistant” (2019) that touches on the problem in a much deeper and less explicit way. The strength of Atala, who appeared at the last festival in Venice, is after him. Not a cold distance, but rather an attempt to take an objective look. We listen to other witnesses on both sides, and see legal tricks and rhetorical performances in closing speeches. We are faced with the questions: How high should consent for sex be? To what extent can you express your sexual desires? Is a man always lost when accused of rape? Are women always innocent? Isn’t the smallest form of de facto sexism allowed a green light for rape culture?
We also see the drama of two young parents. Parents who will split their lives forever before and after the trial. The film “Attal” allows you to play the role of an unjustly accused of rape, as well as a person who, thanks to money and excellent lawyers, can raise doubts in jurors and judges in order to ridicule the verdict. The last time I saw such a good procedure was in John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubts” (2008). There, the suspected pedophile was a liberal priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who was under the strict watch of a nun (Meryl Streep). The Shanley movie talked about the bigger problem of the systematic cover-up of pedophile scandals.
The “accused” has no such broad ambitions, focusing on the case of two people from very special Parisian circles. However, there is also a critique of the maestro’s view of gender here, although the courtroom’s citation of the libertine godfather Marquis de Sade leads her down a very different path from the North American, Scandinavian, or Anglo-Saxon it arose. Protestant Protestantism.
Americans will make this courtroom drama a show with an obligatory moral touch, this time based on the wills of MeToo-era revolutionaries. However, the French show that even in such a seemingly obvious case, different shades of the problem can be distinguished. This movie is unethical. There is no judgment. Rather, it is to show that in sexually emancipated French society, black and white have a different color.
“Accused” [Les Choses humaines], monastery. Yvan Attal, France 2021, Distributor: Galapagos Film, Theatrical premiere: January 28, 2022
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