In his Own Image (2024) Cannes Film Festival | Directors’ Fortnight 2024

May 16th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Thierry de Peretti | Cast: Victoire Du Bois, Alexis Manenti, Louis Starace, Marc-Antonu Mozziconacci, Thierry de Peretti, Antonia Buresi, Cedric Appietto | France 110′

Screening in this year’s Directors’ Fortnight In his Own Image is Thierry de Peretti’s fourth feature that follows on from The Apaches (2013) A Violent Life (2017) and Undercover (2023) winning awards at San Sebastián and the Cesars.

Based loosely on a book by Jerome Ferrari this docudrama follows Antonia, a driven young photographer on a local newspaper in Corsica where her personal life mirrors the island’s turbulent political landscape from 1980s until the dawn of the 21st century.

With all the romanticism of a true love story In His Own Image unfolds before our eyes in de Peretti’s poignant potted political and social story of his island homeland. The director has clearly poured his heart and soul into this cinematic chronicle and infused it with a palpable sense of national pride and identity – and it draws us in from the first scene.

Peretti himself stars as Joseph, a priest in the small southern town of Bastelica where he is also godfather to a young woman called Antonia. Her extraordinary life plays out from the late 1970s onwards and serves as a classic tale of female empowerment, showing how she finds her chosen métier; parties with her friends and falls for her lover Pascal (Starace) who is 21 in the summer of 1979. It also shows how this woman is seen through the prism of a man. A selfish man who puts his country rather than his partner at the centre of his life, and both of them rather suffer the consequences. 

The action is evocatively captured on the widescreen and in intimate close-up, accompanied by an evocative score and enriched by archive footage that sets off with a devastating opening sequence and then flashes back in time to witness the local political unrest that sees Antonia’s new lover drawn into the conflict between the French authorities and local activists. They are fighting for Corsica’s liberation in a violent civil war, and Pascal is one of the them and becomes a ferocious freedom fighter.

In January 1980 Ajaccio is held under siege and archive sequences provide the film with a seething sense of unease and dramatic tension. During the events, Antonia corresponds avidly with Pascal, helping to raise awareness of his plight with her outstanding personal photo archive that speaks volumes: a photo tells a thousand words.

Antonia remains obsessed by her lover as she follows his cause. Her commitment and passion will eventually land her a job at the local newspaper Corse Matin. Despite her age and lack of experience this gives her a sense of independence and agency way beyond her years.

Now living in flat in Ajaccio Antonia is able to conduct a relationship with Pascal on his release from prison. When Guy Orsini, a freedom fighter, is murdered Antonia captures even more photo coverage. But she also comes to the realisation that being a photographer isn’t always an honourable profession – if you want juicy photos – and that working for Corse Matin is limiting her career progression and talents: obits, sport, village dances and trivial fare is not where it’s at for an inspired career photographer, and so Antonia must try to forge her own way, and also break away romantically with new lover Simon (Mozziconacci).

De Perretti elegantly balances all these elements: family, love, career and craft in a compelling drama that avoids sensationalism or melodrama to create a vibrant sense of a nation and a real woman of the late 20th century. Ordinary but also extraordinary In His Own Image is a real triumph. @MeredithTaylor



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