Le premier venu (Just Anybody)
PARIS -- With its minimalist plot, witty dialogue and young characters in search for love, "Just Anybody" represents the very essence of Jacques Doillon's cinema. Which means fans of the French director will love this deep dive into his obsessions, while those who resist his style can only be exasperated. The film looks likely to tour festivals and art houses around the globe.
Sprawling across four days, "Anybody" brings its characters to a small resort on the northwest coast of France. Camille, in her 20s, instinctively jumps on a train from Paris to follow her one-night stand, Costa, a small hoodlum who thinks he doesn't need love. Revolving around the periphery are Cyril, the local cop who's also Costa's longtime friend, and Gwendoline, Costa's ex-wife.
The plot is thin, and dialogue (a landmark of the filmmaker's style) is often the only motor of the action. While the film veers toward stage drama rather than filmic expression, Doillon shoots the interaction between his youngsters and the unexpected situations that arise from their confrontations in intriguing ways. In a brilliant use of space, the characters move in desolated landscapes (the film was shot in winter, when the coastal resort is most bleak), and the director's taste for garish camera movements as an expression of the characters' inner torments skillfully balance the theatrical impression.
The actors are amateurs or newcomers -- another hallmark of Doillon's style. Young Clementine Beaugrand is amazing as Camille, a romantic girl discovering the bitter reality of human relations, lies and sexual instincts. The most dazzling performance comes from Gerald Thomassin, who Doillon introduced 18 years ago in "The Little Gangster." This hoodlum role might finally see the realization of that Cesar he received in 1991 as best upcoming talent.
A bit unsophisticated, Gwendoline Godquin, as the ex-wife, is apparently a genuine worker girl from the region. But she doesn't act with the same style as the other actors, creating an odd imbalance to some sequences.
A Liaison Cinematographique/Artemis Production
Screenwriter-director: Jacques Doillon
Producer: Patrick Quinet
Director of photography: Helene Louvart
Costume designer: Anne Fournier
Editor: Marie Da Costa
Camille: Clementine Beaugrand
Costa: Gerald Thomassin
Cyril: Guillaume Saurrel
Gwendoline: Gwendoline Godquin
Father: Jany Garachana
Running time -- 123 minutes
No MPAA rating