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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

FIDELIO, ALICE'S ODYSSEY (FIDELIO, L'ODYSSEE D'ALICE)


By D.E.Levine

A Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2015 Selection

Definitely one of the most interesting films at this year's festival, Ariane Labed is also one of the most engaging actors.

Alice (Labed), a sailor in the merchant marine, joins a ship as a mechanic.  She is happily engaged to Felix (Anders Danielsen), a non-nautical Norweigian, and although her profession takes her away for weeks or months at a time, they communicate via Skye.  It seems like a calm, happy relationship.

Alice gets the job as a replacement for Patrick, a crew member who died at sea.  She's genuinely surprised to find that the Captain is her old flame Gael (Melvil Poupaud).  With torn emotions but adopting the attitude that no one need ever know what goes on at sea, Alice becomes involved with Gael again.

In the cabin she's given, one that belonged to Patrick, Alice finds Patrick's diary which she proceeds to retain, read and contemplate.

Accepted by the male crew and comfortable in the restricted environment of the ship, Alice does her job and carries on discreetly with the Captain.  Needless to say, there are romantic and professional complications with which Alice must deal, not the least of which is the possible damage to her relationship with Felix..

The backdrop for the film is basically the ship, with some bedroom scenes and some vistas of the open sea as seen from the ship.  Although she's then only female, the emphasis is not on surviving in a man's world but rather on the complexity of the  relationships between Alice and Felix, and Alice and Gael, and how those relationships are handled.

The Greek-born Labed shines in the role of Alice and seems born to play the part.  Much of the success of this film is due to her performance., which should not be missed.