director Christophe Honoré makes sentimental education a remedy for death

From left to right: Lucas Ronis (Paul Kircher), Quentin Ronis (Vincent Lacoste) and Lilio Rosso (Erwan Kepoa Falé), in “Le Lycéen”, by Christophe Honoré.


In the United States, this is called a “coming of age story”in France, a novel of formation, of which Goethe fixed the canon, in 1796, with The Apprentice Years of Wilhelm Meister. An undeniable success welcomed the hectoliters of novels, then of films, which have since flowed into the genre, from the most dodgy to the most felt. We always like to see, understand, feel what we have inevitably failed to see, understand and feel when we have experienced it ourselves. This fine moment of rocking between childhood and maturity that we call adolescence, this insensitive and secret passage where we do not yet know that what we believe we have won is only the consciousness of our own loss. This is why adolescence is itself a loss, undoubtedly the most marvelous of all, in that it emancipates us from almost everything that reason dictates to us to do and think.

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The great privilege of creators who try their hand at the genre is to be able, explicitly or not, to give shape to this moment in their own lives. A kind of second chance which is denied to all of us, but where it is a formidable challenge for them not to miss the evocation of such a distant self. With The high school student, Christophe Honoré found this complex alchemy which dispenses both naivety and depth, strength and fragility, specific to this passage. He owes it, of course, to his talent, but also to his young actor, Paul Kircher, who possesses, without forcing himself and to a supremely cinematic degree, these virtues. Kircher or the meeting of Oliver Twist and Mick Jagger.

A beautiful ellipse suggests that death, this decisive nothingness, can never be filmed opposite

It all begins in the mountains, in the confusion of a post-traumatic story, told in front of the camera by the main character, which will punctuate the entire film. A mother (Juliette Binoche) teacher; a father (Christophe Honoré) dental technician. Lucas (Paul Kircher), their son, has just learned that he will now have to live without him. Ultimate memory of a stroll, darkly heralding, with him. By car on the road. The worried solicitude of the father, the laughing carelessness of the son. A lot of reciprocal tenderness in the tone, in the looks. The father who suddenly confides, about his own life, about the different choices that could have been his if he hadn’t let himself go in high school. And then, a sedan passing them without visibility, another car which emerges opposite and which forces him to fall back, forcing the father to leave the road. This gesture of protection with the arm on the chest of his son, then the bog in what is, by chance, only a wasteland devoid of the slightest obstacle.

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