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A Riveting Teen Psychological Drama



Belgian director Leonardo Van Dijl’s assured debut function, Julie Retains Quiet, builds a riveting psychological drama across the alternative of a star participant from an elite youth tennis academy to not converse up within the wake of tragedy. In her first appearing position, younger tennis ace Tessa Van den Broeck internalizes the title character’s brooding unease with slow-burn depth. The film’s silence is so loaded with the anxiousness, obstinance, inchoate anger and need for anonymity of the traumatized teenage sportswoman that the fixed thwack of her racquet hitting the ball cuts by means of the strain like violent shocks.

Unfolding predominantly in static frames that maintain the story laser-focused, with pinpoint use of American up to date classical composer Caroline Shaw’s needling vocal rating, that is an austerely efficient work. It has echoes of Laura Wandel’s Playground from 2021 and final 12 months’s The Academics’ Lounge by İlker Çatak, all three movies centered on characters in emotionally fraught conditions throughout the bubble of faculty methods.

Julie Retains Quiet

The Backside Line

Silence speaks volumes.

Venue: Cannes Movie Pageant (Critics Week)
Forged: Tessa Van den Broeck, Laurent Caron, Claire Bodson, Koen De Bouw, Pierre Gervais, Ruth Becquart
Director: Leonardo Van Dijl
Screenwriters: Leonardo Van Dijl, Ruth Becquart

1 hour 43 minutes

The Dardenne Brothers served as co-producers and there are faint echoes of their stripped-down narratives and rigorously naturalistic performances from a sturdy ensemble by which the teenage characters are performed by nonprofessionals. Cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis shoots the movie with what seems to be pure gentle wherever potential, that means Julie is commonly enveloped in shadow.

The deftly honed screenplay by Van Dijl and Ruth Becquart (who additionally seems as Julie’s mom) thrusts us with zero exposition proper into the thick of the uncooked nerves and heightened vigilance of the academy’s workers and college students. Questions swirl across the unexplained absence of Julie’s coach, Jeremy (Laurent Caron), however she resists each solicitation to get her to open up.

Already one thing of an outsider on condition that she’s a scholarship participant sponsored by the schooling charges of wealthy youngsters, Julie turns into extra guarded as she parses — or buries? — her sophisticated emotions about current occasions. Chief amongst them is the suicide of Aline, a 16-year-old academy member additionally coached by Jeremy, seen projecting sunny self-confidence in a video about her hopes to affix the Belgian Tennis Federation. Whereas getting ready for her personal upcoming BTF trials, Julie rewatches that video obsessively.

The pinnacle of the academy, Sophie (Claire Bodson), informs the scholars that outdoors mediators are being introduced in to launch an inner investigation and conduct interviews, within the goal of selling extra open dialogue and fostering a protected setting. However the group’s workers additionally look like treading cautiously, cautious of being implicated ought to main transgressions come to gentle.

That appears more and more probably as soon as phrase will get out that Jeremy has been suspended, and whereas Julie initially stays in touch with him by cellphone, she retains these conversations to herself.

Van den Broeck performs Julie’s silence not as a weak alternative however one requiring appreciable power. It’s clear from early on that strains have been crossed and that she’s recalibrating views on her personal current expertise in gentle of Aline’s dying. Her academics and oldsters are involved about her grades slipping, however she insists that she’s fantastic.

One of many strengths of Van Dijl’s movie is that it additionally retains quiet about what occurred, even when it’s indicated unequivocally in Jeremy’s sole scene, when he meets up with Julie in a café to speak. That unsettling encounter is successfully shot in low gentle, with the 2 characters virtually in silhouette.

The murky areas of the player-coach dynamic are fertile terrain for thorny drama, which is paradoxically amplified as a result of Julie’s lips stay sealed. The truth that first Aline after which Julie have been pushed ahead as star expertise and given solo coaching periods with Jeremy means that in prioritizing the potential for academy gamers to interrupt into skilled tennis, the establishment was lax in its supervisory position.

Briefly, punchy scenes performed out with unerring restraint, the film observes Julie training her serves, doing bodily remedy for an damage or understanding on the fitness center, all of which level to her utilizing sport as a coping mechanism.

She listens to Jeremy’s skepticism about her substitute coach, Backie (Pierre Gervais), however she learns to work with him — maybe in a more healthy approach. And he or she steadily makes associates among the many different ladies, popping out of her shell to a level whereas remaining taciturn every time the dialog turns to her former coach.

Most filmmakers would have pushed the character to a breaking level at which she spills out her secrets and techniques. However Julie’s agency place appears non-negotiable. Whereas she seems on the verge of talking up at a number of factors, she attracts a quiet energy from her resolve, refusing to let trauma outline her or derail her tennis profession.

It’s conceivable the film would possibly chafe with individuals who imagine all girls have a duty to reveal their abusers. However Van Dijl and Becquart’s script is wise sufficient to know that adolescence is a turbulent time, and whereas Julie stays conflicted and weak, silence for her turns into about self-preservation. Whether or not or not that may stay the case is open to interpretation.

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