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“That Day” a story about a dysfunctional family
by Erik Sean McGiven on Nov 06, 2007
“That Day” is the story about a dysfunctional family and how
a one haphazard encounter becomes the turning point towards a new
beginning. It’s a convoluted mosaic, a
mystery actually, that slowly takes shape and reveals much about the
perplexity, sadness and irony of their disconnected lives. An insightful film driven by solid acting and
<>The story unfolds from three perspectives. Serge (Bruno Todeschini) a radio journalist
and habitual womanizer leaves the bed of his meek-eyed attractive wife, Pietra
(Natacha Regnier), checks on his young son, Vlad (Louis Dussol) and then on the
way to work stops for a quickie at his sexy mistress Mathilde (Noemiie Kocher)
living in a nearby high-rise apartment building. Continuing on to work in heavy rain, Serge
hits something and checks the street for the body. He finds nothing except a part torn from his
car. Yet he assumes the worse and senses
breathing coming from behind a thick roadside hedge. He calls out but no one answers. Thus begins his ordeal with
accountability. At work Serge is
distraught, unable to concentrate, and returns to the accident site believing
he has hurt someone. On the street he
meets up with Mathilde and at his apartment they have unrestrained sex.
The perspective then switches to that of the wife, Pietra
and time rolls back to the beginning of the story. She lives a bland life, feeding her son, taking
him to school, and then travels to work on a crowded bus. The ride is indicative of her wanting to
connect with the people around her, yet something holds her back. When an Asian man misses the bus she feels
his anguish yet is unable to bring herself to tell the driver to stop. At the museum where she works she is told it
is closed because a rabid dog is loose inside.
She wants to go inside to get her cell phone but is told to go home. Yet she uses a side entrance to retrieve her
phone and on the way out of the museum hears the sound of a dog moving
about. When they meet up, they connect
in an almost human way, and her attempt to lead the dog to freedom is disrupted
by guards. She goes home and finds Serge
and Mathilde’s tossed clothing in the hallway, then hears their passionate
breathing coming from the bedroom. She
runs out of the building in shock. When
the mistress leaves Pietra follows and finds that she lives in the adjacent
building. Pietra returns to the
apartment, throws the bedding from the high balcony then packs and leaves.
Meanwhile, guilt-ridden Serge looks for information about
any hit-and-run victims. At the police
station he talks to a friendly police inspector (Zinedine Soualem) and pretends
to be doing research for a radio show. When
he surrenders himself the police inspector is skeptical.
The son’s perspective again goes back to the beginning when
he awakes and watches his father drive off and then park at a nearby apartment building. The building is where a schoolmate on which
he has a crush lives and whose mother, later revealed, is Mathilde.
Each of these perspectives places us inside the minds of
these characters and shows us how the truth has many colors; it’s not all black
and white nor right or wrong. It also
demonstrates how in our over-secured world an accident can disrupt our
complacency, illuminate our predicament and help us reconnect with those we
truly love. There are no loose ends in this film and when the end arrives, the
many elements of this mosaic come together and present a rewarding and
enlightening ending; one that continues on pleasantly in our minds.
Direction and cinematography aptly capture the character’s inner
turmoil as well as their sterile detachment.
The acting is nicely underplayed permitting the character’s internal
story to take center stage. These are
not store bought characters but complex, engaging ones that drive the story
forward with weighted energy. Tech
credits are first rate and nicely complement the mood and tone of this
“That Day” [1 Journee] stars Bruno Todeschini, Natacha
Regnier, Noemie Kocher, and Zinedine Soualem.
Directed by Jacob Berger,
written by Jacob Berger
and Noemie Kocher,
camera: Jean-Marc Fabre. Film is 95 minutes long and in French with
English subtitles. Reviewed at the
American Film Market, Santa Monica.
February 24, 2020