April 4, 2010
Victor... Before It's Too Late, 1998
In Sandrine Veysset's Victor... Before It's Too Late, social observation and whimsicality oddly - but seamlessly - converge into a bracing exploration of family, connection, and healing. From the opening sequence of an anxious Victor (Jérémy Chaix) staring out at mobile airplanes with both wistfulness and fear that segues into a shot of him running away in the dark of night after a seemingly surreal act of violence, Veyssett creates something of a eccentric realist fable. Rescued by carnival attendant Mick (Mathieu Lané) who promptly deposits him at the door of a prostitute, Triche (Lydia Andrei), Victor soon finds a kindred spirit in the troubled young woman, bound together by a mutual history of parental abuse and sublimated dysfunction. Veysett ingeniously captures the ambiguity between reality and imagination to reflect Victor's confusion and uncertainty over the adult world around him (a sense of dread that is also reinforced by him wearing a red coat that evokes images of Red Riding Hood traversing the forest), striking a delicate balance between gritty realism and fractured fairytale that, like Mick's traveling carnival, offers respite in its fleeting moments of mundane grace.