Directed by Fabien Montagner
Starring Cindy Colpaert, Pierrer Hatet, Vernon Dobtcheff, Fanny Capretta, Philippe Ohrel and Rainer Sievert
Short Film Review by Bailey Claringbold
Le Passage follows Faustine (Colpaert), a young girl who is clearly discontent with her daily life, seemingly trying to escape in any way possible. When on a walk with her dog, Max, he makes a bolt for it, leading Faustine into a situation that makes her re-evaluate what is important.
I was taken by complete surprise with this short film. I became progressively invested in the character of Faustine and completely bought into the emotional performance by Colpaert. She appears to understand exactly what her character is about, coming across as doubtful and unsure of herself. The on-screen chemistry between Faustine and her Grandfather (Hatet) is natural and grounded in realism, and, although short, offer some of the most powerful scenes throughout. The supporting cast also give some compelling delivery that add to the intrigue of the plot.
Script-wise there were a few scenes in which the dialogue hit the mark, in particular when Faustine meets a mysterious elderly gentleman (Dobtcheff), who advances the plot along nicely. On the other hand, I did feel as though it could have helped to include slightly more dialogue between Faustine and her Grandfather as these were the two most fleshed out characters in Le Passage. Their non-verbal communication did pay-off in terms of the lack of conversation.
The cinematography by Arnaud Carney works in favour of Le Passage, incorporating some perfectly timed tracking shots to build the intensity in the second act of the film. I particularly appreciated the use of intimate camera shots as they helped the viewer to buy into the fear of Faustine. Each angle is evidently designed to carry the different emotions through the plot. Carney cleverly uses shots in which there are branches and trees in the foreground to give a sense of claustrophobia, as well as highlight the danger that Faustine is in.
Non-diegetic sound was inserted in just the right places to toy with suspense, mystery and empathy. Cyrille Aufort's score complimented the film beautifully in creating an aura eeriness. The end composition elicits feelings of hope and relief, in that Faustine is now safe at home, and has to be my favourite piece of music here. The crunching of leaves and grass under the characters footsteps provide a fantastic connection for the audience to relate to, interjected as the music cuts away, aiding the realistic elements.
One of the strongest visual aspects of Le Passage are the locations used throughout the film. Faustine's house provides a stark contrast between the gloomy forest that she encounters. The colour palette is rather washed out, including a lot of greys, browns and earthy colours. By playing with the lighting, the more unnerving the scene, the darker it becomes. The only thing that stands out in this field is that the film is set in 1989, yet I felt as though the indication to the time period is lacking a little, as lovely looking as it was, I didn't get the sense of the 1980s that I had hoped to.
Le Passage is incredibly crafted through Montagner's inspiring direction and the cast's nostalgic performances. There are many heartfelt scenes shrouded in sombreness that make you root for Faustine in her realisations and grim situations. The character development and script makes this film one of the most gripping and touching independent movies you will see.