Panorama | Spotlight on France | High School Outreach
After an overdose, 22-year-old heroin addict Thomas (Berlin Best Actor winner Anthony Bajon) is sent to an unassuming Catholic retreat in the stunning French Alps, where he goes cold turkey. Of course, the physical rigours of withdrawal are but one of the trials he must contend with. There’s also the matter of carving out a place for himself in this cadre of lost souls and adapting to the sternly structured life of prayer and hard labour instituted by the priests who preside over this quasi-monastic rehab clinic (occasionally with crucifix-clutching iron fists).
Cédric Kahn’s (L’Ennui) muscular direction is a pleasure to watch, but it is the remarkable performance of new star Bajon that gives the film its heart and soul. For Thomas, the path to redemption is undeniably a winding one, lifting him from an almost feral state into a compassionate community member capable of envisioning an adult life for himself. For the audience, it refreshingly steers well wide of judgmental cliché, instead provocatively investigating complex questions about where the comfort of ceremony ends and actual belief begins.
"Kahn returns in strong, unfussy form with this poignant but unsentimental study… [The] film is as clean and bracing as the mountain air that surrounds it…"—Guy Lodge, Variety
Best Actor, Berlin 18