“The return”, by Catherine Corsini or the fractures of a bruised past


Much has been said about The returnby Catherine Corsini, the twelfth feature film by the director and screenwriter who almost did not end up in competition, at Cannes: first put on hold, due to (anonymous) testimonies of harment, which allegedly took place during filming , as well as inappropriate gestures of two members of the team on two young actresses, the film was then integrated – for the time being, no complaint has been filed.

The filmmaker, who is competing for the Palme d’Or for the third time – after Repetition (2001) And The divide (2021) – sign with The return a very contemporary work, extending the gesture of his previous film: either an event serving as a catalyst for a narration that continues to densify, questioning social cles, orientation, diversity, like fireworks a little too well programmed, proudly distilling its colors in the sky. An arrival at the emergency room The dividein the middle of the demonstration of the yellow vests, served as a pretext to explore the flaws within the left, but also the difficulty in talking to each other, in accepting dissensus, as if the country were becoming an archipelago of irreconcilable islands. The divide revealed Aïssatou Diallo Sagna, nurse’s aide in life, who played an overworked nurse on screen (The world July 10, 2021), a role that won her the César for Best Supporting Actress.

The actress is back in majesty and embodies here Khedidja, a single mother and childminder who, for one summer, returns to Corsica fifteen years after having left the island hastily. Married to a Corsican, with whom she had two children, Khedidja did not really feel welcomed on the territory and preferred to leave, hoping to give her two daughters a more open future. Of this bruised past, Khedidja has not said much to Jessica (Suzy Bemba) nor to the youngest, Farah (Esther Gohourou), and the return to the Island of Beauty will have the effect of a boomerang. They all three settle in a campsite near the beach and the mother will babysit the children of a wealthy Parisian couple – played by Denis Podalydès and Virginie Ledoyen. The opportunity for a grating portrait of people on the left, well-meaning, but capable of having unfortunate words with regard to a black family from a modest background.

Family fabric “cut” in half

Denis Podalydès excels in his way of expressing the unconscious of his character, who is guilty, without even realizing it, of a certain ordinary racism: he is full of praise for Jessica, a good student who goes integrate Sciences Po, which undoubtedly represents in his eyes the young black woman frequentable. But he hardly cares about his sister who has no study project and distorts the mother’s first name… The filmmaker from Castifao (Haute-Corse) does not spare Corsica either, with its little chefs , withdrawal into oneself and virilism which seem to be sure values.

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