Film Name: Métèque
Directed by: #LaurenBlackwell
Métèque attempts to tell the (based on a) true story of a young banker who suddenly finds her UK visa revoked and facing deportation. It’s a film made with our current political climate in mind and aims to articulate the “voices of everyday people”, and understand how the “actions of politicians who like to play God”, affect their day-to-day lives. The massive shift to the right (politically) in the UK over the last few years has been truly terrifying, and movies like this work to bring home the stark realities of hate and paranoia-filled politics to a broader audience.
Not knowing anything about the “true story” the film is based around, I can’t comment on how well it’s been put to screen. But it almost doesn’t matter. We know this sort of thing is happening on an ever-increasing basis, and Métèque presents itself in a way that really rings true. First-time writers Lyna Dubarry and Lou Stassen have crafted a weighty and moving narrative which challenges the already ridiculous assumption that only “bad immigrants” (an equally absurd term) are deported. At its heart is a film about identification and finding where one’s home is. And in this film, the answer to that question isn’t quite what you’d expect.
The first-timers also star in the lead roles of Samia and Zoe, respectively. The performances are genuinely brilliant, and the chemistry between these characters forms an essential emotional anchoring throughout the film. They’re well-written and well-developed characters who share a compelling past. It’s a history that is only ever hinted at, never fully fleshed out, no exposition. For me, this worked well. Not revealing the extent of their shared past allows us – the viewer – to speculate and come to our own conclusions on the nature of their relationship, how they met, or what brought them to the UK in the first place.
The same attention to detail hasn’t followed through to the supporting cast, however. As a consequence, and while performances are generally fine (including a very solid performance from Oisin Nolan), most of the secondary characters feel of little import. In truth though, this had little bearing on my enjoyment of the film as a whole, as it grounds itself with such eloquence in Samia’s story. It’s also, occasionally, apparent that this is an inexpensively made film: at times the picture quality doesn’t hold up very well, and the audio, particularly the dialogue, can be very quiet and difficult to hear. This, again, isn’t something likely to really bother you though as the direction and cinematography (Romain Rampillon) itself is absolutely sublime. There’s a breathtaking sequence in a dance studio between the two lead characters (that I can’t talk too much about without going into spoilers) in which the camera captures a genuinely moving and powerful moment, and where the elegance of its movements and framing seems to elevate the entire film.
While Métèque stumbles at a few hurdles, it’s a superb directional debut from Lauren Blackwell that succeeds, in no small part, due to its extraordinary writing and camerawork. The importance in the unfortunate relevance of its subject matter and the realism with which it portrays it can’t be understated. However, there’s also a sincere exploration of the fantastic central female relationship, written by both of the film's stars. Which is just an absolute delight to digest.