Review: Everybody Loves Jeanne
by Marta Bałaga
- CANNES 2022: Blanche Gardin is a force to be reckoned with in Céline Devaux's tale about a woman who didn’t want much in life – she just wanted to save the world
Director Céline Devaux – showing her film Everybody Loves Jeanne [+see also:
film profile] in the Cannes Critics’ Week – is certainly aiming high. Her protagonist, Jeanne (Blanche Gardin, so damned hilarious in Bruno Dumont’s satire France [+see also:
interview: Bruno Dumont
film profile] last year), doesn’t just want to be successful – she really wants to change things.
Ecologically inclined, she comes up with a “sea cleaning machine”. It’s a noble concept indeed, but things go horribly wrong during its much-publicised launch. There is almost something Bridget Jones-y about the public humiliation that follows, spreading fast thanks to the curse that is the internet. But Jeanne is trying her best to keep her head held high, repeating the mantra, “You are amazing and you do amazing things,” even though it has probably never helped anyone. There is a little voice – or rather an animated ghost that looks like Cousin Itt from The Addams Family – questioning her every move and outfit. And, more importantly, there is no money. All that’s left is a flat in Portugal, empty ever since her mother’s untimely passing.
Simple but surprisingly touching, Everybody Loves Jeanne is a film about the in-between moments: in-between careers, love affairs, even apartments. Jeanne, one more person who used to be considered as “the promising one” and hardly fulfilled that promise, sets out on her short trip to nowhere. Still, she does find something by accident, or even someone: Jean (Laurent Lafitte), a weird guy who remembers her from secondary school.
It feels familiar, this meeting of two people who are so broken that they shouldn’t be able to function any more. But they also remember each other from much simpler times, when everything was ahead of them, not behind. “I love to look at you looking at me,” said Vicky Krieps to her admirer in another Cannes title, Corsage [+see also:
interview: Marie Kreutzer
film profile], and Jeanne might be experiencing the exact same thing. This man knows her as the popular girl, the one who had it all. Which can be tempting, obviously, especially in times of crisis and especially low self-esteem.
What happens after they combine forces is affecting but not sentimental – these two just don’t roll like that. Jean seems to have a somewhat relaxed relationship with the law, especially as far as stealing is concerned, and he has experienced low moments himself – including a psychotic episode that culminated in him “blessing a cop with wine”. As for Jeanne, she needs to figure out her next move, but also to do something she didn’t feel like doing at all: come to terms with the loss of her mother.
Her death – as well as her presence – becomes impossible to ignore once Jeanne lazily sets about cleaning the flat, a bit like in Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman [+see also:
film profile]. The bad things, the hurtful words, slowly start drifting away – what stays is the memory of her mother’s pockets, always full of sugar obsessively nicked from bars. There is a moment when this film gets a bit darker, but it also becomes more affectionate towards Jeanne: a woman who didn’t want much in her life – she just wanted to save the world.
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