The Olympics: Audiard reinvents himself in a generational film [critique]

Three girls, a boy and a whole host of possibilities. Audiard tells the story of today's thirty-somethings in a romantic gesture unprecedented for him. Electric and divisive, an ideal cocktail for a place on the charts?

At a time when moviegoers are waiting to discover his new production, Emilia Perezselected in competition at Cannes this year, Jacques Audiard will be in the spotlight this evening on France 4, via a film also unveiled on the Croisette: The Olympics. In 2021, First was surprised by this project, which was a little different from his work.

We are sharing our review below, as well as a link to an interview with one of its actresses, Noémie Merlant.

Noémie Merlant – The Olympiads: “On the set, Jacques is like a child”

We can enjoy seeing an author dig the same furrow film after film, striving for perfection. With The Olympics, Jacques Audiard signs a gesture at the antipodes. That of overturning the table and splitting the armor. To put his title back on the line but going to battle on new grounds. He who knows so well how to question and sublimate virilism on screen through films where without women being absent – nor showered with awards – (Emmanuelle Devos, Linh Danh Pham, Marion Cotillard…) – the tone was given by male characters all the more powerful as he took care to explore all their weaknesses, from On my lips to Brothers Sisters Passing by The Beat That My Heart Skipped or Of bone rust.

The 2021 vintage Audiard therefore has new flavors. Those of sentimental comedy where, by adapting five short stories by the American comic book author Adrian Tomine, he paints, through the heart and soul stories of his protagonists, the sensitive portrait of the generation of thirty-somethings, crossed by a great solitude (while never before has the other seemed so accessible, just a click away) and forced to build a shell of cynicism to resist the succession of disillusionments and doors that unceremoniously slam in their faces . Here, there are four of them. Emile sleeps with his roommate Camille, who falls for Nora, fascinated by a cam girl whose resemblance to her has earned him devastating digital harassment. Three women and a man. Friends or lovers, often both together, embarked on a ride on the Map of Tendre like an incessant roller coaster.

New Vision Film Verleih- Memento

Located in the 13th arrondissement of Paris which gives it its title, The Olympics is experienced as a sentimental and carnal fresco of modern times which is fully in line with today's social reality. Economic impasses, a crisis in the vocation of the teaching staff, the collateral damage of brutal sexism constitute the background of this story written by six hands by Audiard with Céline Sciamma and Léa Mysius (Ava). But without ever stifling the essential: these words of love which struggle to be pronounced, these bodies which enjoy for a few minutes but incapable of ending the night in the same bed, for fear of becoming too attached and of pay the price later.

No doubt the mechanics are less fluid than usual, no doubt the pure script gesture seems less structured. But even if the film has divided our editorial team, it is also this generation at a distance and with complacency in sounding the air that it was better before. Surrounded by an entirely new team (script, image, music, etc.), he takes its pulse, embraces its rhythm. His characters live their daily lives like an obstacle course. His story embraces these upheavals by refusing easy pessimism. He gets under his skin and loves them in both their endearing and unbearable ways. He sublimates them with the magnificent black and white image created by Paul Guilhaume (the cinematographer of the documentary Teenage girls) and the captivating soundtrack of Rone (César 2021 for Night Coming). And he takes great pleasure in showing in his final stretch the smiles that return, the eyes that light up again. By assuming a blue flower side because it is precisely that of his characters, even if they try to bury it as best they can within themselves because they are incapable of assuming it.

The Olympics
Memento Distribution

A new wind is blowing in Audiard's cinema. Never had his camera been so sensual, never had we felt so free. But one element remains unchanged: the quality of its direction of actors. The man who revealed Tahar Rahim, Reda Kateb and Karim Leklou here allows Lucie Zhang to tumble into the small world of French cinema with unstoppable energy and a sense of rhythm, and Makita Samba to confirm what we had perceived at him in Lover for a day Or My friend Victoria and Noémie Merlant and Jehnnny Beth to take on an even additional dimension. When you love actors, watching an Audiard film is a constant joy. There is so much in him a sense of fair casting and playing together, where the exchange takes precedence over the performance.

Romantic, romantic, connected to its time and yet at the crossroads of yesterday's peaks like Chungking Express Or Manhattan, The Olympics feels like love at first sight. You can completely miss it but when it reaches you, you instantly forget its faults, its approximations, its somewhat insistent production tics to only remember these hearts and these bodies which you miss as soon as the final word appears on the screen .

Selena Gomez and Zoe Saldaña, stars of the new Jacques Audiard


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