Sunday, April 07, 2024

Age of Panic


Written and directed by Justine Triet, La Bataille de Solferino (Age of Panic) is the story of a cable news reporter who is covering the French presidential elections as she deals with the chaos in her life. The film is an exploration of a day in a woman’s life in one of the most tumultuous days of France’s history in a contentious election as she also deals with her ex-husband, two young kids, a lawyer, and all sorts of shit. Starring Laetitia Dosch, Vincent Macaigne, and Arthur Harari. La Bataille de Solferino is a riveting and exhilarating film from Justine Triet.

It’s May 6, 2012 as the second round of the French presidential elections, the film revolves around a news reporter who is late for work as she is dealing with a lot in her life including her ex-husband who has arrived a day late for visitations, a novice babysitter watching their two young kids, a needy boyfriend, and all sorts of shit during a tumultuous and historical day for France. It is a film that plays into a day in the life of a woman yet the day itself is one of historical significance as she has to cover the events that is happening as it couldn’t come at a worst time as she hires a novice babysitter to watch her two young daughters while her ex-husband is trying to see them because of court order. Justine Triet’s script is largely straightforward yet its narrative moves back and forth into the actions of the news reporter Laetitia (Laetitia Dosch) and her ex-husband Vincent (Vincent Macaigne) as the former is reporting at the Rue de Solferino in Paris where the socialist candidate Francoise Hollande has his home base. Yet, Vincent’s attempts to see his children is thwarted as he turns to a neighbor in Arthur (Arthur Harari) to settle the matter leading a full-on tumultuous day for all involved.

Triet’s direction definitely has a sense of realism where Triet shot everything on that day as the element of cinema verite definitely comes into play due to Triet’s own background in documentary filmmaking. While the scenes outside of these events are largely straightforward in its compositions although there aren’t a lot of close-ups with the exception of shots when Laetitia is on a motorcycle going from one street to another. Much of Triet’s direction emphasizes on medium shots in some of the film’s intimate moments or something as chaotic whenever there’s a big crowd scene at a campaign rally. There are also some wide shots of these events as it plays into the frenzy that is happening where Laetitia talks to Hollande’s supporters but also supporters of the opposing candidate in Nicolas Sarkozy as it does play into something that feels real.

Triet’s approach to everything involving Laetitia’s personal life is straightforward as there are moments that play into the chaos including Vincent trying to meet Laetitia who is on assignment after noticing the babysitter and a friend of Laetitia with their kids as it leads into trouble for Vincent. Yet, Triet would also maintain a sense of looseness in the scenes at Laetitia’s apartment where the babysitter is with the kids as he also has to endure Vincent’s phone calls. Triet also maintains a sense of dramatic tension as it relates to Laetitia and Vincent with Arthur being in the middle during the film’s third act as he is trying to be the mediator. While Vincent does have a valid case due to a court order, he is unfortunately a day late while Arthur also reveals some things that could go against him but is also trying to help him knowing how complicated the law is. It all plays into this sense of a woman just dealing a hell of a day filled with so much as that is going on a historical day for France in the 21st Century. Overall, Triet crafts an exhilarating film about a day in the life of a news reporter who tries to juggle her responsibilities during a historical day in France.

Cinematographer Tom Harari does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it is largely straightforward for much of the film’s daytime/nighttime exteriors along with a few stylish lights for some of the interior scenes at night. Editor Damien Maestraggi does brilliant work with the editing as it has elements of jump-cuts as well as a few other stylish cuts to play into the film’s energetic presentation. Production designer Regis Blasy does nice work with the look of Laetitia’s apartment in its interior setting as it plays into the chaos in her life. Costume designer Mariette Niquet does fantastic work with the costumes in the clothes that Laetitia wears as well as the ragged clothes that Vincent wears.

Sound editor Olivier Touche does superb work in capturing the sound as it is largely straightforward in the way crowds sound as well as some quiet moment in the more intimate scenes. Music supervisor Thibault Deboaisne does terrific work with the film’s soundtrack as a lot of it is diegetic in the usage of classical music played in rooms with a piece by Dead Man’s Bones played during the motorcycle scenes.

The film’s wonderful cast feature some notable small roles and appearances from Zine-Zine Sidi Omar as a police investigator, Colin Ledoux and Chloe Lagrenade as a couple on a bridge that Laetitia meets, Jeane Ara-Bellanger and Liv Harari in their respective roles as Laetitia and Vincent’s young daughters in Jeane and Liv, Maxime Schneider as Laetitia’s motorcycle driver who takes her to different locations to Paris for an assignment, Emile Brisavoine as a friend of Laetitia who helps the babysitter watch the kids as they’re in the crowded streets, Vatsana Sedone as a neighbor of Laetitia who is asked to watch out for Vincent in case he tries to get into the apartment building, Virgil Vernier as Laetitia’s boyfriend who is fond of the kids but is often needy to be around her, and Marc-Antoine Vaugeois as the babysitter hired to watch over Laetitia’s kids as he is new to the job as he becomes overwhelmed with Vincent trying to see him and the chaos that is happening in the day.

Arthur Harari is excellent as Vincent’s friend Arthur who is a law student who is trying to help Vincent with his case but also try to mediate things between Vincent and Laetitia in the film’s third act. Vincent Macaigne is brilliant as Vincent as Laetitia’s ex-husband who shows up a day late to his court-supervised visit as he is eager to see his daughters while it is clear he is mentally-troubled but also an asshole despite his love for his daughters. Finally, there’s Laetitia Dosch in an incredible performance as Laetitia as a news reporter who endures one hell of a day as she brings in this complex performance of a woman that is dealing with so much in an entire day as well as having to cover something historical as it is gripping performance that captures a woman in one insane day.

La Bataille de Solferino is a phenomenal film from Justine Triet. Featuring a great cast, a simple yet effective premise, setting it at a real-life event, and it simple yet engaging visuals. The film is definitely an unconventional yet exhilarating film that plays into a woman dealing with so much as she has to cover a historical event in France as it becomes this hell of a day for this woman. In the end, La Bataille de Solferino is a sensational film from Justine Triet.

Justine Triet Films: (In Bed with Victoria) – (Sybil (2019 film)) – (Anatomy of a Fall)

© thevoid99 2024


ruth said...

I've been curious to check out Justine Triet's work since 'Anatomy of a Fall' I'll check this out as I like movies about reporters/journalists. Setting it as a day-in-the-life is so very French!

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-It's one of 4 films available on MUBI right now as I plan to watch her next two films before I get to Anatomy of a Fall but first, I have to finish my Blind Spot film in Greed as I saw half of it this past Saturday on YouTube.