30 April 2022

Birthplace of Jules Verne, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

The birthplace of Jules Verne in Nantes: 4 Cours Olivier de Clisson.

29 April 2022

Lu in Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Jean-Romain Lefèvre married Pauline-Isabelle Utile in 1850, and the combination of the initials of their surnames, LU, were to become worldwide names. The former LU factory is now a cultural space, and a wonderful building, a highlight in Nantes: a Lieu Unique.

Jules Verne in Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

This statue of Jules Verne, who was born in Nantes, is the work of Jean Mazuet, and is the replacement of a bronze one which was lost in 1945.

Art in Le Jardin des Plantes, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

There are several fascinating works of modern art in the Jardin des Plantes in Nantes, most by Jean Jullien, which embellish the park, and obviously hugely increase the number of visitors to it. Sadly, the plaque to the poet Élisa Mercœur is no longer at the entrance to the park, and appears to have disappeared. There is an area dedicated to her nearby, although the existence of the plaque seems to be unknown as new railings have been put up. Nantes is hugely strong on culture, but where is the plaque and why has Jacques Demy's birthplace gone?

Les Enrouleurs, by Jean Jullien.

L'observateur, by Jean Jullien.

Le Siesteur, by Jean Jullien.

La Coiffe, by Jean Jullien.

L'Arroseur, by Jean Jullien.

Le Passeur, by Jean Jullien.

Le Ratisseur, by Jean Jullien.

Banc géant, by Claude Ponti.

Les Oscillantes, by Johann le Guillerm.

La Dormanron, by Guylane Hululine.

La Grue Titan jaune, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

La Grue Titan, in former dockyard and construction area of Nantes, in fact on L'île de Nantes, is a historic (and now artistic) crane which serves as a major landmark for Les Machines de L'île, particularly for its most famous (and most advertised) attraction: the elephant. There is also a Grue grise, also a historic monument of the Titan variety, slightly to the south-west of this one.

28 April 2022

Vincent Mauger in Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Vincent Mauger and his fascinating enigmatic creation. For a few seconds I thought, stupidly, that it was a mysterious plant rather than a mysterious other.

Les Machines de l'île, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

Les Machines de l'île in Nantes is co-created by François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice, after many years of working together on street theatre, and I have already commented on Delarozière's creation of Le Dragon de Calais. In Nantes we saw the elephant in action, an artistic creation which has been created from the ruins of the former naval shipyards. Jacques Demy and his sailors are never far from the mind.

Les Anneaux de Buren, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique (44)

From the mid-eighteenth to the nineteenth century, the number of French slave trading expeditions was 4220, and those from Nantes were the largest by a huge number: the figure 1714 far exceeds any other port, and in fact the next four largest concerned ports in total add to less than this number. Nantes has every right to be ashamed of its past, and these eighteen anneaux by Daniel Buren and Patrick Bouchain represent the slaves' rings in the ships' holds. At night they are coloured red, green and blue.

In addition, a street by the river has been named after the American feminist and abolitionist Lucy Stone.

Boite à lire, Rezé-Trentemoult, Loire-Atlantique (44)

I have visited many boites à lire, but this is the weirdest yet. It's not unusual to find the odd non-French book among the French ones, but although there weren't many books at all here in the shadow of E. Leclerc hypermarché, almost all were in English, and most of those orginated from an academic place in Wageningen in the Netherlands. But the titles! Biological Control of Thrips Pests, The American Heliocentric Ephemeris 1901-2000, The Genetics of Bacteria and their Viruses, Genetic Variation between and within Ethiopian Barley Landraces with Emphasis on Durable Disease Resistance. I'm not joking, although could it be that someone else is?

26 April 2022

Boîte à Lire, Lisieux, Calvados (14)

I believe the boîtes à lire in Lisieux conform to the same structural pattern, as in for instance Dijon, so I just include one of them here: this is in the town centre, and although I spotted a much fuller one in a tiny park a few hundred yards from the Basilique Sainte-Thérèse, this is my first sighting of these superb creatures in Lisieux.

Michel-Victor Leroy in Lisieux, Calvados (14)

Michel-Victor Leroy (1754-1842) was born in Lisieux, where he studied, and left for Haiti with his brother in 1775 or 1778. They had a very successful plantation with its own manufacture of rum for several years, until the slave revolt came and the plantation was violently lost, along with Michel-Victor's brother. The survivor left for New England, and in 1800 he met botanist François-André Michaux. Botany and horticulture now became Leroy's central interests, although he returned to Lisieux, where he died on 33 rue Petite Couture. The roundabout was inaugurated in 2013.

Paul Cornu in Lisieux, Calvados (14)

Inventor Paul Cornu (1881-1944) took after his father for inventing things, and indeed worked with him on some projects. Included in these are a motor bicycle, a steam tricycle, a small 'ultra-light' car with two engines capable of reaching 70 km per hour, etc. Paul even turned his hand to a primitive kind of helicopter with two propellors and four bicycle wheels. He died a civilian war casualty and is remembered in Lisieux's Musée d'art et d'Histoire as well as a local lycée technique named after him.

25 April 2022

Lisieux and a Bureau de Vote (Polling Booth)

It's the day after the French elections, the day after Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen for the second time in five years. And although it was a very clear win, it certainly wasn't the crushing defeat of five years ago. Five years is a long time, and many people have become very discontented with Macron, very many call him the president of the rich, as opposed to the right and the left that he said he would represent: he's also noted for his arrogance, which strongly manifested itself last Wednesday in his débat with Le Pen. Many other people just voted for Macron not because they like him, but because he's the lesser of two evils: it was a question of voting for the person you hate less, which surely has nothing to do with democracy. But Le Pen's extreme right-wing views, especially her attitude to immigrants, are justifiably obnoxious to many French people. The daily Libération newspaper today carried the headline 'Merci qui ?', plainly indicating its pleasure that Le Pen didn't succeed, but wondering who exactly had voted for Macron instead of not voting at all, or leaving a blank or spoiled paper. And Libé has certainly shown in the past that it favours the left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who came third but also (like Le Pen, but for very different reasons) had increased his number of votes: again, evident disappointment of five years of Macron.

But on to this abandoned bureau de vote/poll booth in Lisieux, Calvados. Just a tiny makeshift hut really, although the messages on the walls are interesting. 'Test salivaire' (saliver test) with Macron as a bull's eye may be a reminder of the 'passe sanitaire', but it's also an inevitable reminder of the clothes pegs a number of voters wore in the 2002 election, when the the right-wing Chirac stood in opposition to the older male Le Pen. The booth is also interesting in that it has a French translation of Benjamin Franklin's 'It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.' Another label in the booth says 'Ce sticker sera plus difficile à enlever que vos libertés' ('This sticker will be more difficult to remove than your liberties'.) The next five years will be very interesting, and very trying, for Macron. Mélenchon's LFI (La France Insoumise) is gaining ground increasingly, particularly among the dispossessed young.

20 April 2022

Albert t'Serstevens's Un apostolat (1919; repr. with Afterword by Jean-Pierre Martinet (2018))

This fascinating little-known novel by the little-known Albert t'Serstevens has a sixty-six page Afterword by the also little-known (but more than a little fascinating) writer Jean-Pierre Martinet, whose 1980 masterpiece Jérôme is still (criminally) largely unknown even by French readers.

Here, the converts to the vegetarian life free from social and political constraints at first meet in the Restaurant Cérès: there's Pascal Marin, the older Chapelle, Krabelinckx (modelled on t'Serstevens himself, and a partial renegade who sneaks home to eat fried sausages), Firmin Lhommel, the poet Verd, etc. Anarchists, they form a utopian cummune named Cité Kropotkine but it doesn't stay a utopia for long. Plagued by infighting and huge theft by con merchant Botrou, the ideal ends with Lhommel's suicide and the collapse of the dream.

The second part of the book sees Pascal in London, which is to say the least a disappointment to him, and he spends his last weeks there living with the mysterious Déa, who may be a kind of prostitute but who knows? Returning alone to Paris, Pascal writes a pamphlet before becoming smitten by Lucienne, who lives in luxury and whose often absent but understanding husband Cunard is a financier. End of Pascal's egalitarian ideals.

18 April 2022

Jean-François Stévenin's Double messieurs (1986)

Although – partly because – this film is crazy, it's also brilliant, but then the same can easily be said of all three of the films that Jean-François Stévenin directed. After the (relevant) pre-credit photo montage, we see married businessman François (Jean-François Stévenin), aged forty, on a plane from Bordeaux back to Paris, where he's reminded of his schoolfriend Roger (Yves Afonso). And François has to join him, renew acquaintance with their summer school times spent in the Jura.

François does some detective work and – seeking his friend's whereabouts – meets his greengrocer brother who is hopping mad about his brother's behaviour: at forty, he still behaves like a schoolkid, living with his mother, calling himself Léo instead of Roger, being a stuntman for Belmondo and not having a proper job, he's 'le roi de la pince'. But meeting up with Léo partly brings back the adolescent in François, who is amazed to find memorabilia of their early days still treasured by Léo after twenty-five years, such as the time they used to play tricks on 'Le Kuntch', a third member of their gang. Léo says they must go and see him, play another trick on him, as if time has stood still and they only knew him yesterday. As if you can live in two times simultaneously, which Léo certainly does, although François is sceptical: well, isn't it a little late in life to be playing les 400 coups?

We never in fact see Le Kuntch, although he's now a property developer and when they get to his luxurious home he's not there. But Léo knows what to do: they let themselves in via a partly open picture window by the swimming pool. The place seems empty, but they help themselves to drinks until Hélène (Carole Bouquet) – Le Kuntch's wife – arrives and, well, they kidnap her, using a car belonging to Le Kuntch. This means they're now in the abduction and car stealing business, but is this important? If you're fifteen maybe this can just about be passed off as a juvenile gag, but...

But the viewer will find slight echoes of the craziness of other film directors here, such as Truffaut, Rozier, Blier, and probably many others. Although this is pure Stévenin at the same time: it's the characters' reactions to situations they're in which are more important than the situations themselves, for instance. As regards time, although Le Kuntch is stuck in the present and mainly interested in the money he's making and doesn't want to see his old friends, what is that huge blow-up of the photo taken of him having a prank played on him doing taking pride of place in his villa? Oh, it's just the imagination of Léo and François working on overdrive, it's a state of mind (or time) rather than a present-day reality.

All three of Jean-François Stévenin's films are now classic cult films – as are some of the films he didn't direct but just starred in, such as Patrick Bouchitey's insane Lune froide (1991) – although this is probably the hardest to understand, it needs more than one viewing, and it's not a place to easily understand his genius if this is your first taste of him.

15 April 2022

Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls (1995)

Showgirls was very badly received both critically and by the general public, and many still appear to have the same opinion. Yes, it's overblown – no pun intended – horrendously tacky, and most of the characters are scarcely believable. But so what? This is how this extremely strong criticism of various extremes of the erotic dance industry – and by extension the world of runaway capitalism and easy money – is intended to look, with its commodification, its objectification of women. Everyone, it seems, can be bought if the place is right, and men (if they have the power) can do what they like with women if the price is right, or even they choose to take it for free. It's a world where people commonly seriously hurt their best friend if that friend is famous and they can take their place, where if you have pots of money anything you're responsible for – even multiple rape (and this is long before Harvey Weinstein) – will just be swept under the carpet, no police involved and no questions asked.

This is rags to (future) riches, but then back again for Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley), as she moves to Las Vegas at the beginning and on to Los Angeles at the end, in the same truck driven by the same lowlife guy on both occasions, the same guy who picks her up hitching both times. It's refreshing that two of the main actors – Molly (Gina Rivera) and James (Glenn Plummer) – are non-white and are the most sympathetic characters.

9 April 2022

Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel's Jessica Forever (2018)

Poggi and Vinel's first feature after several shorts is an amazing film set in a dystopian future with the technology of the past and the present day. The country is ruled tyrannically, using forces spéciales (killer drones) to wipe out the male delinquent orphans who live by violence. Jessica (Aomi Muyock), a bullet-proof vested almost virgin Mary type figure who is never sexualised, takes in the orphans and tries to calm them of their anger, having them live together as one family, learning to care for and love each other. But she knows it's not easy.

They find an abandoned bourgeois house in which they enjoy a middle-class life style, adopting the guerrilla uniform of Jessica and carrying weapons around with them in preparation for the inevitable. But problems develop when they try to fraternise with the villagers. The love which Michael (Sebastian Urzedowsky) feels for Camille (Angelina Woreth) is strong, but in spite of the soothing qualities of Jessica the latent violence of the orphans can't not be expressed on occasion, as when Lucas (Augustin Raguenet) starts to attack a few men at a party the younger villagers are having. And it's the act of pent-up violence in Raiden (Paul Hamy) which causes the villagers to have the drones set on them and ruin the brief idyll.

We need people like Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel: this film is saying an enormous amount about the state of our present society.

8 April 2022

François Ozon's L'Amant double | The Double Lover (2017)

Towards the end of L'Amant double, isn't the cat seen by Chloé (Marine Vacth) just a hallucination, a trick of the mind, a dream? Didn't that cat just disappear from the flat of Rose (Myriam Boyer), but then reappear in Rose's doorway held in the arms of Paul (Jérémie Renier), like a very welcome refound present? No, that was just in one of Chloé's dreams. But then, there seem to be many dreams, many fantasies in this film where very little is quite what it seems, where the mysterious can lurk in the everyday, where everything can twist so many times.

So what is real here, how much can we grasp for certain? Chloé is psychologically disturbed and after a series of sessions with shrink Paul they fall for each other and start living together without the cat as Paul doesn't like them. Oh, and Chloé has stomach pains – doctors may think they're part of her mental sickness, but they're real all right. And the rest? Who can say?

Chloé finds that Paul has been hiding his past, has a twin brother Louis, but they have different names and Paul refuses to recognise him – as Paul is gentle and loving, Louis is mean and violent, and we discover later that in his youth Louis raped Sandra (Fanny Sage), who was a virgin, Paul's innocent girlfriend now a vegetable. But Chloé gets to meet Louis and loves his violent ways, and becomes pregnant by...which brother? But hang on, why is the mother of Sandra (Jacqueline Bisset) so angry with Chloé, and can she really read her mind?

So Chloé kills Louis, or is it Paul, or surely that's fantasy too? Then she has to be rushed to hospital and we see that Chloé's mother is also Sandra's mother: that, at least, is true in a sense as Chloé's parasitic twin which she's absorbed – all two pounds of it, so her stomach pains in the end weren't part of her illness – she chooses to call Sandra. So she wasn't pregnant after all. Doubles, mirrors, illusions, dreams. This is quite a film, one of Ozon's more complicated ones.

7 April 2022

Ursula Meier's Home (2008)

This first feature by Franco-Swiss director Ursula Meier is a slightly humorous, almost surreal film of a family whose contented existence turns to hell.

At first the family – mother Marthe (Isabelle Huppert), husband Michel (Olivier Gourmet), older daughter Judith (Adelaïde Lennoix), younger daughter Marion (Madeleine Budd) and son Julien (Kacey Mottet Klein) – are in a strange but healthy environment: they are in an isolated house in the countryside next to a disused road. Olivier goes to work in his car, Marthe is the housewife, the younger kids walk to school across the fields, and Judith just listens to music on the radio in a deckchair with a bikini on.

And then they learn from the radio that the road is being re-tarmacked in preparation for a new incarnation. Their life of hell begins as heavy traffic comes and the noise is unbearable. During an accident there is a traffic jam, with stationary motorists ogling Judith and leaving a pile of litter on their doorstep.

Their reactions are different, as is their attitude to the health hazard of the pollution. Judith leaves, they argue, and then Michel has the crazy idea of shutting out the noise by clothing the house in fibreglass insulation and breezeblocks. This may make the house quiet, but it doesn't make for good breathing. The only option is to walk away.

Lucile Hadžihalilović's La Bouche de Jean-Pierre (1996)

This medium-length film (fifty minutes) is by Gasper Noé's partner Lucile Hadžihalilović and we can see a clear preoccupation with young children as in her later films. Taking place mainly in a small appartment in an HLM, where Mimi (Sandra Sammartino) has been forced to go while her mother recovers from her suicide attempt, the colours here are predominantly sickly bright green and bright yellow.

This is racist territory, where Mimi's unwelcoming, self-centred aunt Solange (Denise Aron-Schropfer) willingly signs a petition against a family of Maghrébins (north Africans), and where Solange's new boyfriend Jean-Pierre (Michel Trillot) seems to be staying. Jean-Pierre's nature is shown by his violent use of strong language to a kindly neighbour who saw Mimi thrown out of the flat while Solange cleaned, and who let Mimi join him and his friends in a musical session; by him secretly watching a porn film on TV while Solange is asleep; but most of all by his casual attitude to a programme on paedophilia.

And Jean-Pierre is a paedophile, touching, stroking and trying to kiss the ten-year-old Mimi when Solange is out at work. For trying to warn Solange that he's a pédé Mimi gets a slapped face. Mimi attempts to escape a situation of sexual abuse over which she has no control by taking some of her aunt's diazepam supply, only to have her stomach pumped like her mother and to be sent back to her aunt and her paedophile boyfriend. Powerful and claustrophobic.

3 April 2022

Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein (1993)

Wittgenstein is directed by Derek Jarman and produced by Tariq Ali, and is based on the life of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1899-1951), who taught at the University of Cambridge (UK) from 1929 to 1947. A low budget work, this deals with the young Wittgenstein as an engineer in Manchester in the early years of the twentieth century to his death as a noted philosopher in Cambridge, UK. With Clancy Chassay as young Wittgenstein, Karl Johnson as the adult, Michael Gough as Bertrand Russell, Tilda Swinton as Ottoline Morrell and John Quentin1 as Maynard Keynes.

Peter Strickland's In Fabric (2018)

Peter Strickland's In Fabric resembles a sex-obsessed, 1970s suburban London comedy mixed with the comic horror of Quentin Dupieux and bathed in a Lynchian atmosphere.

Apart from the incendiary ending it's in two parts: the first with bank clerk Sheila Woolchapel (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) looking for love after her split from her husband, constantly plagued by her son Vince (Jaygann Ayeh) and his girlfriend Gwen (Gwendoline Christie); and the second with Reg Sparks (Leo Bill as a washing machine mechanic) and his new wife Babs (Hayley Squires).

But the real star of the movie – and appearing in both parts – is an ('arterial red') killer dress, originally bought by Sheila from Dentley & Soper's from post-Christmas sales for a date. At this shop, the staff speak in a weird, pretentious variety of English, and the changing rooms are called 'The Transformation Sphere'. The dress gives Sheila a rash, causes her washing machine to go berserk and a dog to savagely attack her, and generally freaks her out. In the second half, following Sheila's death in a car crash, the dress is bought in a charity shop for Reg's stag night, gives him a rash and causes his washing machine to go crazy.

It's not too difficult to see this film as an indictment of modern consumerism, high-powered selling and heartless capitalism. Perhaps the strongest criticism of the over-riding power of the market is when Reg gets the sack for mending his own washing machine: he bought his own spare parts, but we mustn't forget that the company trained him. And they trained him so well that he's really fluent in washing-machine-speak, even lulling his gay bank managers into almost orgasmic bliss with it: I was so suspicious of the language used that I even checked out 'wigwag terminals', and yes – it's a bona fide term!

As for the dress, of course it survives the fire and remains wholly intact, even though it was the cause of it. The tannoy annoucement is: 'A dramatic affliction has compromised our Trusted Department Store. Get out graciously.' As Quentin Dupieux is only too aware, inanimate objects can have supernatural forces.

2 April 2022

Ryūsuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car (2021)

I don't watch non-English or non-Francophone films a great deal, so for me to spend three hours on a Japanese film is irregular. But then, this is a superlative film, quite entrancing. It's an adaptation of Haruki Murakami's short story of the same name. Forty-seven-year-old Yūsuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima), a famous actor and theatre director, has to be driven to the theatre for rehearsal of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya by Misaki Watari (Tōko Miura), a twenty-three year woman. She waits outside while he interviews the multi-lingual actors for audition, and while the rehearsals take place.

There is, and there couldn't really be anyway, much action. The important things mainly take place in the car. Here, the actions are largely between the director and the driver, as they learn about each other, and how to process their similar experiences of grief, how they learn to live and/or to re-live. I'm not one for applauding awards, but this film deserves what it receives.

Alain Resnais's I Want to Go Home (1989)

I can't make up my mind about this film: although it's certainly not one of Resnais's best, can we really talk about this great director's worst? The word 'worst' doesn't seem to fit the man, and the fact that all of the characters are unbelievable seems to be irrelevant.

Joey Wellman (Adolph Green) is the main character, and Green wrote the screenplay for Singin' in the Rain. Here he plays a cantankerous, very loud-voiced ageing American bigot visiting France for the first time, and distressed that not everyone can understand his language. In fact, the film is in essence about Franco-American relationships. Joey has come over with his partner Lena (Linda Lavin) for a cartoon exhibition in Paris, but is more interested in finding his daughter Elsie (Laura Benson), whom he's not seen for two years as she's gone to Paris to study for an MA on Flaubert. It so happens that the Sorbonne expert on Flaubert, the person she's been seeking to read her thesis, Christian Gaultier (Gérard Depardieu), also seems to be an expert on BDs, and has invited Joey and Lena to the home of his mother Isabelle (Micheline Presle).

I didn't say that cartoon bubbles 'Hep Catt' and 'Sally Catt' frequently appear by Joey and Elsie's heads, as if as the viewer is reading their secret thoughts, seeing them disagreeing with themselves, acting as their superego, etc. But this is not off-putting, it works in well with the general comedy item which this film is. So are we really concerned when Christian (who's still not read Elsie's dissertation) joins in the fancy dress party at his mother's dressed at Popeye, Joey as Hepp Catt, Elsie as Tweetie Pie, etc? No, not a bit.

Then Joey escapes from the party to the village, desperate to leave for America. The locals don't understand any English, he tries to make them understand by singing American songs, gathers quite a crowd of villagers around him. Worried, Elsie and Lena seek him out, and find him the star of attraction in the local café. How does this end? Obviously, wannabee French gonzesse Elsie returns to the States, as does Lena, leaving behind Joey who's happy with Christian's mother. How's that for Franco-American relationships?

Alain Resnais's Mon oncle d'Amérique | My American Uncle (1979)

There are three principal characters in this film, which is by no means as odd as it sounds: Jean Le Gall (Roger Pierre), an ambitious normalien with an interest in politics and writing; Janine Garnier (Nicole Garcia), who was brought up by communist parents and is now an actor who will for a short time live with Jean; and René Ragueneau (Gérard Depardieu), who comes from a farming background but will become the manager of a textile factory. All to some extent go against their parents' wishes, and all associate with an acting character who will appear in short black and white clip of films representing the actor in times in a particular state of heightened emotion when the character is in that state himself or herself: Danielle Darrieux for Jean, Jean Marais for Janine, and Jean Gabin for René.

And their difficulties are many. The behaviourist Professor Henri Laborit appears as himself, spouting his theories and 'illustrating' them with laboratory rats and short clips of the characters' difficulties which we've previously seen. The characters have varying degrees of problems, particularly seen psychosomatically in the case of Jean and René, and experienced in the most extreme case by René's attempted suicide.

There's no singing in this film, although another of Resnais's interests – cartoons – appears with Le Roi d'or being mentioned twice, once in relation to Jean digging for treasure as a child on one of the two Îles Logoden in the Golfe du Morbihan: the cartoon is mentioned this second occasion in relation to the expression 'Mon oncle d'Amérique', who is an imaginary distant relative who, in fantasies, leaved a rich inheritance.

1 April 2022

Emmanuel Marre and Julie Lecoustre's Rien à foutre | Zero Fucks Given (2021)

Emmanuel Marre and Julie Lecoustre's Rien à foutre is a masterpiece, and Adèle Exarchopoulos plays the role of Cassandre brilliantly. For once, we see an airline company – and a low budget airline company probably modelled on Ryanair – from the point of view of a crew member. And not only do we see her at work in the plane – selling goods to the 'guests', caring for distressed ones, tolerating insulting ones, and tidying up swiftly before the next batch arrives – but we see her being trained, trained not only in first aid but trained to sell as much as possible, trained to smile constantly and never to express any negative feelings, trained to be a robot in a cut-throat capitalist environment.

Cassandre left her father and younger sister a few years before, unable to process the sudden death of her mother in a car crash. The numbness of her mindless work routine seemed to fit, coupled with the endless sexual encounters on Tinder, the clubs, the drugs, the drink, which could happen anywhere and everywhere the flight takes her. Her cellphone becomes an extension of her self. So glued to habit is she that she sees the compulsory training upwards to be a cabin manager as an existential threat.

But there are moments when the ice breaks, when emotion breaks through the deadness, such as when she almost begs her one-night-stand to lie with her a little longer. But the killer is when she comforts a patient going for an operation by buying her a wine on Cassandre's own credit card: that's a serious breach of company rules, and her compassionate action leaves her grounded for a time, in which she returns to her family and a return to the past, to the roundabout where her mother died.

The final scene is superb, as it's in Dubai – an artificial place with buildings specifically for (preferably rich) tourists in search of the wow factor. Dubai is a capital of capitalism, and people who come there come to take photos in droves, just to prove they've been there, to take selfies for distribution throughout the social media. And Cassandre? She doesn't give a fuck, does she?