Les Combattants (15)

Directed by Thomas Cailley
Picturehouse, Liverpool
19th - 25 June 2015

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This appears to be a simple story about the slow bonding together of a young couple, Madelaine (Adele Haenel) and Arnaud (Kevin Azais), but this is deceptive, because it is multi-layered in its subject matter.

For instance there are references to the recession in France and the lack of employment opportunities for young people. But once expressed they are never expanded upon.

However the topic about the environment and climate change is put forward several times. Madelaine is a fervent environmentalist and firmly expresses her opinions

Nevertheless this is not a film about issues relating to the environment. Instead it is about the reversal of fortunes of the two lead characters.

Madelaine, before she joins an army bootcamp, along with Arnaud, is shown as being stern and resolute. But although tall and strongly built she is seen failing at one of the exercise drills, while all the men succeed.

On the other hand Arnaud, who is initially perceived as being weedy and not very clever, within a week of taking part at the camp, is given command of one of the exercises in a forest.

I am not certain where this sudden change in personality of both of them emanated from, or what director Thomas Cailley is trying to say.

But again, referring back to the environment, one of the most touching scenes is when Madelaine rescues a ferret from being drowned, perhaps symbolishing the need of humankind to rescue wildlife from becoming extinct.

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