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Age of Panic

La Bataille de Solferino

Dir: Justine Triet, 2013, French with English subtitles, 94 mins, Cert: 18 TBA

Tue 23 July // 20:00

Tickets: £6 (full)

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After our screening of two of her early short films on Tuesday July 16th (tickets available here), we continue our look at the early career of Anatomy of a Fall director Justine Triet with her debut feature Age of Panic.

The film was released as La Bataille de Solferino in France, a title that hints at the film’s most striking gambit. Rue de Solférino is where jubilant crowds gathered when Nicolas Sarkozy was defeated by François Hollande in the 2012 French Presidential Election - an event captured, vérité-style, in the film itself, as Triet took the bold decision to shoot her film in the streets on the day of the presidential election itself. 

Triet’s protagonist Laetitia (played by Laetitia Dosch, who we saw in Triet’s short Two Ships) is a junior reporter for a French TV station who is locked in a custody battle with Vincent, the father of her two daughters. So when Vincent shows up at her apartment on the day Sarkozy is defeated, she’s forced to find a way to protect her kids from a situation that is fast getting out off control, while also doing her job - and doing so with a smile. 

Just as in Anatomy of a Fall, Triet is looking at what happens when women start to outperform the men in their lives - and just as in her Oscar-winning script for that film, she paints the story in shades of grey, with both Laetitia and Vincent reacting to each other’s provocations with (amusingly) unreasonable behaviour. As you would expect with Triet, the performances are impeccable, and the script is taut and blackly comic - and the fact that the whole chaotic situation is playing out against the backdrop of events that are really unfolding before the camera makes this feel even more torn from reality than Anatomy of a Fall

For those interested in another meta-cinematic footnote, the film features a hangdog turn by Arthur Harari - Justine Triet’s real-life partner and the co-writer Anatomy of Fall - as Vincent’s lawyer friend who becomes embroiled in the ex-couple’s meltdown.   


“Let’s start with the most urgent recommendation and work down: out of the eight films I sampled from this year’s installment of Lincoln Center’s self-explanatorily-titled annual series “Rendez-vous with French Cinema,” Justine Triet’s Age Of Panic is the big must-see. That title’s no joke: Triet’s first feature builds on her documentary background, embedding a palpitation-inducing family drama within the real street gatherings and celebrations on the day of François Hollande’s election to presidential office.” - Vadim Rizov, Filmmaker Magazine

Age of Panic stands as one of the exemplary works of modern French cinema, a landmark of what a daringly original filmmaker can do when working in a system of her own.” - Richard Brody, The New Yorker