Sunday, January 21, 2018

Self Discovery at Sea

Fidelio, l'odyssée d'Alice (2014) - Borleteau
Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 11.41.06 AM
Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 11.52.23 AM
Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 11.48.31 AM
Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 11.45.44 AM
Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 11.47.03 AM
Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 11.51.06 AM
Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 11.47.42 AM
Alice (Ariane Labed) is called in from her vacation with her Norwegian boyfriend Felix(Anders Danielson Lie) to replace an engineer who died at sea on Fidelio, a merchant ship. It turns out the captain of the ship is an old classmate at the Naval academy and a former lover Gaël (Melvil Poupaud). The ship consists of half seasoned seamen of French nationals and half devout Christian Filipinos. Alice, only woman on the ship, turns out to be a very capable engineer and has no problem getting along with everyone. Things get complicated when Alice succumbs to desire to hook up with Gaël. She also starts reading the diary the dead man left behind.

Fidelio touches upon the life at sea theme - loneliness, alienation, freedom, etc. The ship in the sea also provides plenty of cinematic moments. Seeing Labed in coveralls with oil smudged face is also a plus. You might think my summary of Fidelio above sounds like melodrama on the high seas, but the film is really not. Without getting too deep into character's backstory, it paints the picture of a woman who is finding out what she wants in life head-on. I loved the physicality of the film both in characters and its surroundings. Alice is very much in love with Felix. He is the anchor that grounds her life. They have intense physical relationship. But would he be there for her every time she docks after each long journey?

Lucie Borleteau balances well btwn bigger themes in seafaring life and nitty gritty details of life on and outside the ship. Alice is not above anyone Hemingway style when she is spending time with her parents and family. She also contends well with centerfold photos that adorns the decks and corridors of the engine room of Fidelio. From a shot of a sea snake caught in the bucket to Filipino crew doing karaoke while Alice looks on behind the round nautical window, Fidelio's full of graceful moments. Loved it.