March 13, 2014 6:56 pm

Suzanne – film review

Katell Quillévéré’s film invites us to fill in the gaps as it jumps through its heroine’s life
'Suzanne', directed by Katell Quillévéré

Sara Forestier and Adèle Haenel

“Reading between the lines” is a response any intelligent filmmaker would hope for from an audience. Reading between chapters – inferring whole missing chapters, withheld on apparent purpose – would seem a demand too far. But the superb French-Belgian film Suzanne, the second from Katell Quillévéré (Love Like Poison), makes every ellipsis and time-jump an epiphany.

The title heroine is introduced as a little girl with a sister and widowed father. Suddenly she’s a pregnant teenager (played by Sara Forestier, youthful prettiness squalled in ensuing scenes by subtle changes). Suddenly again, she’s a gone-missing petty criminal. “Too little information!” we protest at first. But we are beguiled into the story as if into a jigsaw puzzle. Here are the pieces; start joining them up. And figure that the missing pieces – the very fact of their missingness – might be a clue and point.

A human life which at first seems everyday-dysfunctional starts to shape into something unique. There are wonderful visual moments: the little scene, viewed from overhead, of Suzanne parting with her boyfriend at a cross street but returning over and over for a last kiss. By movie’s end – in this poignant, slenderly hopeful tale of loneliness being handed from generation to generation – every piece of the puzzle is there, even if some have been supplied by our own prompted imaginations.


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