Actor passed to directing, Yvan Attal leaves Human things Wednesday, December 1, based on the novel by Karine Tuil, Goncourt Prize for high school students 2019. Inspired by the Stanford campus rape case in 2016, the novel, and the film, question consent since the first recorded rape trial from the end of the Middle Ages, as recently evidenced by The Last Duel by Ridley Scott.
Son of two Parisian media intellectuals, Alexandre (Ben Attal), a brilliant student at Stanford University, is accused of rape by the daughter of his mother’s new companion. Arrested, he forces his two parents to come closer. Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), journalist committed to the feminist cause, thinks only of saving her son from prison, at the risk of denying his convictions, while Jean (Pierre Arditi), television star, thinks of using his network to protect him. Until the trial where the future of Alexander will be played out.
Yvan Attal is visibly carried by his subject in Human things when he discusses rape and its consequences in a broken family. He does not hesitate to involve his actor son Ben and his wife Charlotte Gainsbourg in it. He confides himself, his presence at a rape trial as part of his documentation for the film, was the essential element in the angle he chose: the point of view of the juror forced to decide on a man’s future. His complex and painful subject is fueled by the recent accusations of rape against Nicolas Hulot, and of harassment against Jérôme Cahuzac by the former Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti.
Films are often compared to their sole subject, simply neglecting the cinema: the script, the images and sound, the staging, the editing … Yvan Attal has a real vocation as a director, there is no doubt. His adaptation of the novel by Karine Tuil seems faithful, allied to the experience of the director in the documentation necessary for his film. But despite a beautiful cast (Arditi, Gainsbourg, Kassovitz and the beautiful performances of Ben Attal and Suzanne Jouannet), the impact of the film does not completely meet expectations.
We are first surprised by the first appearance of Charlotte Gainsbourg (Claire), interviewed on the radio, who seems to recite an agreed feminist statement, then by other exchanges in the film which are not always convincing. Choosing to end with a long trial scene interspersed with flashbacks is a good idea, but doesn’t completely remove the tedious feeling of the process. Good intentions remain.
Kind : Drama
Director : Yvan Attal
Actors : Ben Attal, Suzanne Jouannet, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Pierre Arditi, Mathieu Kassovitz, Audrey Dana, Benjamin Lavernhe, Judith Chemla
Country : France
Duration : 2h18
Exit : December 1, 2021
Distributer : Gaumont Distribution
Synopsis : A young man is accused of raping a young woman. Who is this young man and who is this young woman? Is he guilty or is he innocent? Is she a victim or only in a desire for revenge, as the accused claims? The two young protagonists and their relatives will see their lives, their convictions and their certainties shattered but… Is there only one truth?