Dir: Catherine Corsini Cast: Suzy Bemba, Esther Gohourou, Aïssatou Diallo Sagna, Lomane de Deitrich, Cédric Appietto, Denis Podalyds, Virginie Ledoyen | France, Drama
Catherine Corsini is arguably most successful in her intimate character dramas. Summertime particularly comes to mind. Her eleventh feature premiering at Cannes Film Festival is one of her best so far in capturing the intensity of a summer holiday, with two terrific central performances from newcomers and onscreen sisters Suzy Bemba (Jessica) and Esther Gohourou (Farah). The French island of Corsica provides a stunning playground for them to get together after a long time apart, and experience first love before going on to real life.
The French are big on holidays: barely a month goes by without some kind of long weekend or school break, and Corsica is becoming increasingly popular with its secluded beaches and craggy coves. To bring us up to speed with family set-up Corsini starts her film with a preamble showing a mother Khédidja (Aïssatou Diallo Sagna) fleeing Corsica with her two little girls, their father having sadly died in enigmatic circumstances. Flip forward fifteen years and the three of them are heading back there where Khédidja will be serving as nanny to a wealthy family from Paris. Here Corsini and her co-writer Naïla Guiguet skilfully manage the various narrative strands involving the trauma of their characters’ collective past, occasionally veering into melodrama but always with feeling.
Jessica is the smarter of the girls and soon develops a close bond with Gaia (Lomane de Deitrich), the daughter of the Parisian couple (Denis Podalydès and Virginie Ledoyen). Meanwhile, Farah starts to dabble with drugs and meets Corsican bandit (Harold Orsoni) providing the film with some spikier moments. Bemba and Esther make for alluring couple exuding both charm and humour, somehow making their mark in an environment that is distinctly unfriendly to outsiders, and there’s a racial element at play here.
But mostly this is an extended family story about sins of the past and redemption. All the characters experience a transformation as the dynamic gradually shifts and all with satisfying outcomes. Corsica is very much a character, its breathtaking scenery stealing the show as it did in I Comete: A Corsican Summer and Let the Corpses Tan.
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2023