Magazine article Screen International

'Ceasefire': Locarno Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Ceasefire': Locarno Review

Article excerpt

Director/scr: Emmanuel Courcol, France. 2016. 103 mins

The consequences of war are impossible to escape at home or abroad in Ceasefire (Cessez Le Feu), a handsomely crafted, quietly affecting period drama from writer/director Emmanuel Courcol. The aftermath of the First World War is explored through the life of a family touched by its horrors and sacrifices in a prestige, thoroughly respectable production that should be welcomed by an older audience but might also resonate with a younger generation all too familiar with violence and the physical and emotional scars it inflicts.

The range of characters and sweep of incidents in Ceasefire suggest that it must be based on a novel, but it is an original screenplay by Courcol, a prolific actor and writer who was Cesar nominated for his screenplay for Welcome (2009). His first feature as a director reveals a confident touch and a belief in the power of good, old-fashioned storytelling.

Ceasefire begins amidst the chaos and carnage of trench warfare in Argonne in 1916. Georges Laffont (Romain Duris) attempts to steady nerves and provide the leadership his soldiers require. Shells fall, lives are lost and Georges stumbles through the aftermath covered in the brains of a fallen comrade. We next find him in West Africa in the early 1920s, putting physical and emotional distance between himself and the world he once knew. Heavily bearded, toasted by the sun and looking like Robinson Crusoe after a long exile, he has immersed himself in the local culture and even found a Man Friday in Diofo (Wabinie Nabie), a fellow survivor of the Great War.

Even here, though, violence and loss still find Georges, who eventually returns to the family home in Nantes where his invalid brother Marcel (Gregory Gadebois) lives with their ailing mother Louise (Maryvonne Schiltz). Trying to re-engage with his family is a process marked by guilty confrontations, loss, romance and the universal desire to once again embrace life's possibilities. …

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