[Essai] “Laurent Cantet, the Sense of the Collective”, a cinema of the human – Benzine Magazine

If the name of Cantet does not necessarily come to mind when we list the great French directors, reading the latest work by Marilou Dupontel and Quentin Mével in the “Face B” collection is instructive enough to make us revise our opinion. on him.

Laurent Cantet and the actors of “Between the Walls” – Copyright Haut et Court

We now know the principle of the books in the “Face B” collection at Playlist Society: a long in-depth interview with a filmmaker, which allows him to review, one by one, all his films, generally covering both the “historical” context of each film (how it fits into the director’s filmography, but also in the social, political and intellectual context of his time) as well as the themes that run through it, including numerous technical aspects – production , writing the script, directing actors, directing, editing… The interview is preceded by a copious analysis of the filmmaker’s work, allowing an overall perspective of its importance, and ensuring a kind of “preparation” of the reader, who will then be able to better follow the route which will then be explained in detail. In short, an effective structure, which allows reading on several levels, whether you are a simple cinephile or a professional of the cinema: very short, the “Face B” works are typically devoured in a couple of hours, and offer us a luxury rare in our age of incessant verbiage and all-out commentary, that of closing them feeling more educated.

Couv-Laurent-Cantet-the-meaning-of-the-collectiveAfter Wiseman, Imbert, salvadori, Donzelli and Belvaux (this last work having proved particularly inspiring), the latest addition to the collection looks at the case of Laurent Canteta director both celebrated (he is one of the rare French filmmakers to have received the Palme d’Or at Cannes) and largely ignored, both by the general public (one cannot say that his last film, Arthur Rambohowever successful, has attracted crowds) than by many moviegoers, often more busy celebrating US colleagues who are less unique.

Of course, the virtual simultaneity of the theatrical releaseArthur Rambohas created a news effect that will hopefully benefit this Laurent Cantet – the sense of the collectivebut it also allows us to come back to films that we had somewhat neglected when they were released, such as Back to Itaque, Foxfire Where the workshop. Because we have to admit that, beyond the major success that was his first feature film, Human ressources (which is still his best film to date) and the famous Palme d’Or awarded to the relevant – and risky – Beyond the Walls on the republican school confronted with current societal challenges, Cantet has not always been a reference author for us either.

What the analysis of Marilou Duponchel highlights, and which will be detailed and amply confirmed during the interview conducted by Quentin Mevelit is the extreme intelligence of a cinema that questions the relationship between the individual and society, between the intimate and the universal, between affect and politics, as ultimately few authors are capable of do it: from business to school, through artistic circles, from Paris to La Ciotat via Haiti and Havana, it is above all the human that fascinates Cantet, and not systems and ideologies (even if, of course, the “political” is never far away in his films). And, quite logically, it is at the level of the interpretation of his films, always irreproachable (even the detractors of his films agree…), often entrusted to non-professionals whom he makes work collectively, that Cantet invests the most. And it makes the difference.

As every time such a work works, Laurent Cantet – the sense of the collective, makes us really want to take a new, different, more informed look at the films that are analyzed and whose generation is explained to us with an impeccable mixture of precision and enthusiasm. This is not the least of its qualities.

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Eric Debarnot

Laurent Cantet – the sense of the collective
Essay by Quentin Mével and Marilou Duponchel
Publisher: Playlist Society – Collection: Side B
144 pages – 8 €
Publication date: February 22, 2022

“Arthur Rambo” by Laurent Cantet: I tweet, therefore I am.

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[Essai] “Laurent Cantet, the Sense of the Collective”, a cinema of the human – Benzine Magazine