The Nephew (Le Neveu) short film review

★★★★★

Directed by: #WilhelmKuhn

Written by: #WilhelmKuhn

Starring: #SimonRoyer, #MarieStéphaneCattaneo

Film Review by: #DarrenTilby



Wilhelm Kuhn's short film, The Nephew (Le Neveu), is a French-noir drama, full of cynicism and moral ambiguity; classic noir ingredients. A film which takes the coming-of-age genre and turns it on its head. Set in 1945, it sees a young man’s adolescent innocence and naivety pitted against the uncaring and coldly harsh nature of the adult world; in a country struggling to rebuild itself in the wake of a devastating war.


1945, and World War 2 is finally over. France has played host to some of the most hard-fought battles of the war, and seen countless armies fight across its fields and towns for the better part of 6-years: the ruination wrought, not only to its landscape and cities but also its population is, for most, unimaginable. It’s in post-war France, during this time of reconstruction, that we’re introduced to Louis (Simon Royer); a 15-year-old whose uncle (Laurent Le Doyen) has decided it’s time for him to ‘become a man’. And whilst buying your nephew his first beer may seem like a normal thing to do, leaving him at a brothel – having paid for the services of a prostitute – is not.


Céline is that prostitute. And she’s played to perfection by Marie-Stéphane Cattaneo, whose performance is as beguiling as it is enigmatic. Conversely, Royer’s performance as Louis is as straight-laced as they come and oozes in naive morality, but is no less spectacular. The Nephew is an incredibly well-acted movie all round: outstanding central performances are bolstered by an equally impressive supporting cast; all of whom deliver their lines impeccably and impart upon their characters distinctive traits that really set them apart.


These performances are underpinned by Wilhelm Kuhn’s excellent direction and scriptwriting, which is full of rich and well-written dialogue. Andrea Boccadoro’s score provides a deeply affecting accompaniment to the already intense melancholia of the film’s mood, whilst Ahmed El Lozy’s superbly understated cinematography radiates with brilliance. Truly, this is an exquisite looking and expertly scored piece of film-making.


A Quintessentially French film, it brims with the confidence and sensuality we've come to expect of French cinema. The rather forthright attitude to its subject matter – in this case, sex – can make us Brits more than a little uncomfortable at times. But it’s also this level of sincerity and the unflinching style of film-making that draws us in and has us coming back for more.


It's great to see French films doing so well of late. Big screen hits like Revenge, Raw, My Life as a Courgette and The Red Turtle, is proof that French cinema is still more than capable of holding its own at the box office, against not only domestic releases but also large Hollywood productions. And it would seem, with films like this one, that the French are also capable of dominating the short and indie scene too. Film-making of the highest calibre, don't miss it.