LES COMBATTANTS

THOMAS CAILLEY

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Following the death of their father, Arnaud (Kévin Azaïs) agrees to help his brother with the family carpentry business. A chance encounter (and wrestling match) with the sullen Madeleine (Adèle Haenel) becomes something else when the brothers are hired to build a pool house by her parents. Madeleine, who believes the end of society is approaching and that survival skills will be essential when that time comes, is fixated on joining the army to the exclusion of all else, including Arnaud’s initial, tentative approaches. However, when he impulsively joins her in signing up for a two week boot camp, a slow thaw begins.

Garlanded with awards since its premiere in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight strand, including Césars for its leads, the film strikes a well-judged balance between the comedic and dramatic, with Haenel’s performance in particular capturing the film’s tone perfectly.

98 minutes, France, 2014, Subtitled, Colour, D-Cinema

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