Cinema: France Is Cracking Up In ‘La Fracture’

Cinema: France Is Cracking Up In ‘La Fracture’
Is it too much to call La Fracture France’s best film comedy in years? Actually, I think in terms of humor that cuts to the bone, and made me laugh with that proverbial laugh that catches in your throat, it’s the best film comedy from any country in years. Its comedy isn’t artificial vaudeville or snarky attitude, as in so many American films, but a human comedy — a Dantesque Purgatorio, but with more laughs. The title has been translated into the lame The Divide, but it’s more properly called The Crack-Up, as it depicts France both falling apart and cracking up in laughter. Or simply transpose the French title, since the film is about not only a social and political fracture, but also a literal bone fracture. Two of them, in fact. La Fracture, directed by Catherine Corsini (who directed the acclaimed Un Amour Impossible) is a wide-ranging social portrait, or if you prefer, an ensemble piece of the kind the French do so well. But it focuses on two characters: Raf (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) is an artist who’s broken a bone in her right (drawing) arm. Yann (Pio Marmal) is a truck-driver who’s fractured a bone in his leg. Both of them can’t work as a result of their accidents, the director’s pointed commentary on how all of us may have our socio-economic situation demolished by chance calamities. Both wind up in a public hospital’s ER — the film is partially Corsini’s love letter to the French healthcare system. During much of the film they’re two opposing poles, but eventually come together, their relationship a center of gravity that anchors us in the midst of swirling activity, both funny and horrific.   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Catherine Corsini (@corsini.catherine) La Fracture takes place during the first eruption of the gilet jaune (yellow vest) revolt. It’s based on a true incident, when a group of gilet jaunes were pursued by marauding riot police to a hospital, where they found sanctuary. Yann, one of the yellow vests, never expected things to degenerate so violently — he’d just hoped President Macron would consent to meet them (sure, sure). If he doesn’t recover from his injury quickly enough to get back to his truck and make an important delivery he fears he’ll lose his job. Pio Marmal gives a fine, believable performance as a man of limited understanding, limited perhaps because of his straitened circumstances, oscillating between desperation and bravado. You want to shake him, but mostly you root for him and feel sorry for him.

Lead photo credit : The Divide film poster (C) aissatou.diallo.sagna, Instagram

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Dimitri Keramitas was born and raised in Connecticut, USA, and was educated at the University of Hartford, Sorbonne, and the University of London, and holds degrees in literature and law. He has lived in Paris for years, and directs a training company and translation agency. In addition, he has worked as a film critic for both print and on-line publications, including Bonjour Paris and France Today. He is a contributing editor to Movies in American History. In addition he is an award-winning writer of fiction, whose stories have been published in many literary journals. He is the director of the creative writing program at WICE, a Paris-based organization. He is also a director at the Paris Alumni Network, an organization linking together several hundred professionals, and is the editor of its newletter. The father of two children, Dimitri not only enjoys Paris living but returning to the US regularly and traveling in Europe and elsewhere.