Les Éblouis – A little, a lot, blindly
Sarah Suco takes us inside a sectarian catholic community. A fine story inspired by her own childhood, reminding us of the children still oppressed in those communities.
By Axelle Amar
Reading time 5 min.
After Ozon’s By the Grace of God, released earlier this year, French cinema focuses again on Catholicism and its drifts. In Les Eblouis, actor and director Sarah Suco criticize religious cults and their power over families seeking balance. A balance found by the filmmaker who didn’t fall in the sterile Manicheism. Instead of prosecuting the cults, she shows their layers to help us understand the bound they create.
Camille Cottin (On a Magical Night, 10 pour cent, Mouche), enters uncharted territories to act as a ill mother, influenced by the religious community, taking her family along. If the group is focused on solidarity and love values, the “Shepard” (Jean-Pierre Daroussin) quickly slips toward sick authoritarianism and breach of trust. Slowly, not only meals are shared after the mass but the family has to move in a community’s house, to be exorcized and to cut all links with the rest of the family (unfavorable to the cult). Influenced by the community, roles get reversed. Camille (Céleste Brunnquell), young elder of a large family, has to sacrifice her childhood for her mother, replacing circus lessons with prayers and religious songs.
The film’s tension stands on Camille’s funambulism,
torn between gregarious instinct and survival one.
The look is the storyline’s main thread. You can see the community’s authority through Camille’s eyes. She sees her mother sink in madness and her father letting go. She sees her brothers and sisters put in danger and her forbidden passions. Moreover, she sees the “Shepard” taking their lives in his hand. Behind this look, Camille tries to understand and differentiate what is good and what is bad for her family. At the beginning, the teenager seems to be the only one to really see, not to be blinded. She is incredulous when the other members –as true sheeps- bleat for the “Shepard” to break the bread. But she ends up having fun with the other children and enjoying her life in the community. The film’s tension stands on Camille’s funambulism, torn between gregarious instinct and survival one. Growing prematurely at 14, she takes care of her family as their only hope to escape. A part allowing the young actress to thicken and nuance gradually her act, owing her a selection for the César award for most promising actress in 2020. With Les Eblouis, Sarah Suco reminds us about cults we tend to forget, that are still active. And we shouldn’t close our eyes.