29 December 2020

Xavier Legrand's Avant que de tout perdre | Just Before Losing Everything (2013)


Avant que de tout perdre is Xavier Legrand's first film, a thirty-minute short and forerunner to his first feature Jusqu'à la garde (or Custody) (2017), a film about a violent male husband and the problems with the custody of the son. The same actors appear with three of the same names: Miriam (Léa Drucker) and Antoine (Denis Ménochet) as the parents and Joséphine (Mathilde Auneveux as the daughter: in Jusqu'à la garde the son Julien was played by Thomas Gioria.

At first a woman (Miriam) waits for a child (Julien) and then collects a tearful adolescent Joséphine from a bus stop, giving final kisses to her boyfriend. She then swiftly drives to work, saying she's leaving forthwith to drive five hours to her sister. The staff at her workplace tell her she should have complained to the police, but she's only interested in escaping. Then her husband calls at the reception desk, she quickly puts on her former uniform in an office, where the extent of her injuries are apparent, particularly the large bruise on her leg. She goes to have a few words to reassure Antoine that things are as normal, returns to the office in panic and only makes her getaway after some difficulties. It is a tense film with a great deal of detail packed into a short space.

It won the Grand prix du Festival de Clermont-Ferrand in 2013, was nominated for and Oscar in the fictional short category in 2014 and received the César for the best short film the same year. On the other hand, Cahiers du cinéma saw it as a telefilm on automatic pilot.

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