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SOLOTHURN 2018

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Boomerang deftly handles the clichés of a picture-perfect Switzerland

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- The film by Swiss director Nicole Borgeat, who trained at INSAS in Brussels, was screened in competition this year for the Solothurn Audience Award

Boomerang deftly handles the clichés of a picture-perfect Switzerland

Boomerang by Nicole Borgeat, screened in competitionthis year for the Audience Award at Solothurn Film Festival, is the story of two juxtaposed characters: a young and ambitious politician with clearly xenophobic ideas (the parallels between the CCP and another political party well-known in Switzerland for its narrow-mindedness are evident), and Blerta, a mother in her thirties, reserved, Muslim and veiled. Linking the two is Théo's girlfriend, obsessed with hygiene and good manners, who resorts to Blerta's excellent cleaning services, unbeknownst to her partner (who would be shocked by her presence). 

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It’s seemingly microbes that end up connecting these two characters due to a mysterious series of events. When Théo's mother's lasagne is accidentally mixed with a toxic cleaning product made in China that Blerta’s phobic employer forces her to use, they will find themselves, quite literally, in each other's shoes. A story that steals some unexpected, and perhaps bitter, smiles from its audience, despite the subject matter being tackled many times before. 

Nicole Borgeat succeeds in handling every element of this film with a certain lightness and self-awareness that saves the comedy from banality, starting with a fairly conventional story full of dangerous clichés that are tackled in a way that doesn’t make them excessive. Although the inevitable happy ending with a multicultural garden party is somewhat disappointing, as a whole, the film has the guaranteed value of always remaining true to itself. The director definitely has the courage (not to mention the audacity) to pursue her project to the very end, creating an intelligent comedy that manages to involve even the most sceptical of audience members in its flurry of good feelings.

The extraordinary performances of the two protagonists: the Belgian Guillaume Kerbusch in the role of Théo and French Marlène Saldana in the role of Blerta, give Boomerang an absolutely essential aptness and freshness. The jubilation of the transformation of the timid Blerta into a ruthless and unstoppable woman is priceless! Both take on a challenge that certainly isn’t easy: that of playing two characters in the same film without falling back on caricature.

What makes the audience smile is precisely the actors’ abilities to subtly play with the characteristics of each character without taking the easy route of emphasising the traits of one or the other too much.

In spite of the linearity of the story, certain situations in the film dangerously resemble reality, pushing us to see that unfortunately many more truths are hidden behind the clichés than we would care to admit. Boomerang confronts us with two findings that aren’t always overly apparent: the emptiness of the wealth that surrounds us and to which we cling grotesquely, and the desire buried within each of us to experience an authentic and happy ending (utopian until the end!). And indeed, inside every one of us is a desire to yield to a guilty pleasure from time to time (especially when it’s portrayed with such intelligence and self-awareness)! 

Boomerang was produced by the Genevan outfit Alva Film together with Radio Télévision Suisse RTS and the Belgian company Need Productions.

See also

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