Celle qui porte la pluie seen through the eyes of Sarah Schlüssel, member of the preselection team of Berlinale Shorts:
A young woman cleans a bathroom, listens to music, hoovers. Everything looks normal, simple. Then an old man appears out of focus in the background and the atmosphere shifts from light to dark in just a second – a powerful scene. You can feel the tension between the two, masterfully acted. She is annoyed, angry, does not want to stay with him, her dying father. There it is, her fear, her pain, her grief, making her behave this way.
The fear is not only seen in her face: it is literally there – embodied by a giant pig that she has to step over to leave the room. It is a strong and effective image that takes you by surprise and introduces the second part of the film in which conventional narrative storytelling takes a pause. Dream and reality start to merge as we go on this journey with Agnès, the young, grieving woman who is trying to come to terms with her father’s terminal illness. In three acts, beginning, middle and end, we witness how Agnès moves from anger and frustration to acceptance. What are the stages of grief? What does it mean to lose a loved one? How can you ever accept that?
The second chapter comes across as a feverish dream, a visual poem that blurs the lines between what is real and what is imagined. A magical centrepiece, a reference to Southeast Asian cinema. Agnès is walking alone through dark woods and takes shelter in a remote cabin. The pig is in its natural habitat, always close to her, always there. No escape. The Asian woman living in the cabin, a mysterious character, tells her: “Often the most painful is simply to accept it.”
Agnès goes out to the pig, and, as the camera turns to the night sky, kills it. She kills the fear that is inside her, that stops her from making the most of her time with her father. She is ready. Later, Agnès and her father are together joking, lying side by side. There is intimacy, love, shared acceptance of what cannot be changed. “Thanks for being here,” he says.
Sarah Schlüssel is a culture manager with a focus on film and festivals. She is a member of the Berlinale Shorts selection committee, coordinates the Short Form Station of Berlinale Talents, and co-founded shorts/salon.