Suzanne – film review

“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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