57000 Km Between Us (57000 Entre Nous), Dir. Delphine Kreuter (2007)

Marie Burgun as Nat taking shelter in her room

Marie Burgun as Nat taking shelter in her room

 Rating: 6/6

This is an entrancing, original  and interesting debut from Kreuter which I saw as part of the 23rd London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, and I really hope that it gets a wider release beacuse this is film that deserves to be seen.

The film primarily works as a social satire of the age of the internet. It revolves around fourteen-year-old  Nat’s (a wonderful and entrancing Marie Burgun) family the self-obssesed Margot (Florence  Thomassin) and her equally vain partner Michel (Pascal Bongard) , and contrasts her alienated relationship with them to her more affectionate relationship with her transgender father Nicole (Stephanie Michelini) and her loving partner Khaled (Mohamed Rouabhi). Whose sexuality, refreshingly, in the film is no issue for Nat or Khaled and is accepted without question.

The internet for Margot and Michel are seen as the tools of self-promotion,they have their own website and are constantly staging their lives in order to generate a bigger fanbase. A particualrly comic moment occurs when Margot gets concerned over losing 45 fans from last week and suggests it because they ‘don’t look happy enough.’

They then constantly seek to embody the happy loving family in this self-exposure, kissing in front if the camera, making the perfect guacomole sauce and throwing elegant dinner parties. But the truth quickly undermines this facade as  things begin to unravel and we learn that Margot is still in love with Nicole.

The first sign that things are not as they seem on the website is the relationship between them and Nat. Nat is constantly reminded by Margot and Michel that she does not live up to the ideal they are trying to portray and Nat consequently shuts herself off from their world, usung her room as a shelter from the madness. She uses the internet as a way of connecting with others who are also isolated such as the teenager  Adrien (Hadrien Bouvier) who trapped in hospital is dying of a mysterious and infectious disease. And whose own mother (Vera Briole) can’t even bring himself to visit him.

It is this relationship that tests the limits of communication as they both disguise themselves as avatars in a computer game where there are no major responsibilities. Here they can be powerful and get married in a way that fufills fantasies unrealised in real-life. The title shows that there is still this distance between them however, both in the computer game which sometimes Adrien is too ill to play, and in reality where Adrien is unable to be physically next to Nat through fears of infection.

But it also shows that if it had not been for the internet they would’ve never met in the first place, for both Adrien and Nat it is an essential escape. There is also a very tender scene in which Nat with the aid of a webcam shows Adrien her city, playing happily in cherry blossom flowers and comically inspecting a dead rabbit, while Adrien looks on with interest and amusement.

The relationship between Nicole and Khaled is also very effective and is presented without drama or judgement , it is instead loving and real (unlike Margot and Michel they don’t have to paly at being in love or constantly reassure each other that they do)  and I would’ve liked to have seen more of it in the film. The relationship between Nicole and her fellow transgender friends is a bit more complicated , tragi-comic at times and quite bitchy (maybe fuelled by jealousy of Nicole and Khaled’s great relationship) and this could’ve also been developed a bit more.

There is a graet cameo from Mathieu Amalric too, who plays Simon a man who likes dressing up as a baby and being mothered by his girlfirend (Chloe Mons) , who comes to the dinner party and ruins the elegant faced that Margot and Michek have built up for their website. Nat recognises him from seing him before on the web and comically and pervesely shows him up by riding him on all fours round the dining room. Simon effectively represents the voyeuristic extremes that people will go to on the internet. Mention should be also made of Julie Land’s cameo as Margot’s exhibitionist mother, who takes pleasure in showing off her latest song and dance routine and is an insight into why Margot is the way she is.

The camerawork is done using a quite shaky hand-held camera and so takes a moment to get used to and be slightly disorientated by. But it effectively emphasises the theme of exhibitionism and self-obssesion as it feels like this is a home video.

Overall an effective, thought-provoking work that will leave you thinking about the conseqences of the internet age and the changing nature of communication.

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