between mother and daughter, a border and an abyss


Mother-daughter relationships are sometimes epidermal. Should you kill your mother (symbolically, at least) to free yourself from it and leave with little or no skin? Margaret (Stéphanie Blanchoud), 35, popular singer, has been working on it for a long time. Each blow given to her parent translates, in her, a great need for love and recognition.

To talk about this archaic anger, which probably proceeds from the impossible “body for two” evoked by the New Zealand psychoanalyst Joyce McDougall (1920-2011), at the end of the 1980s, the Franco-Swiss filmmaker Ursula Meier chose to express its furious madness by resorting to the plastic arts. In slow motion, glasses, plates, vases thrown against a wall, under an invisible hand, come crashing to the ground… From this filial household scene proceeds a close-combat whose cries are masked by a classical symphony.

It doesn’t take long to understand the crux of the problem. Christina (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), pianist, reproaches her daughter for having diverted her from her career as a soloist, while Margaret resents her for ignoring her musical qualities. It goes wrong, and the mother ends up stunned, her head against the keyboard… Sick leave, the pot of roses of which we will not reveal here.

Strict distancing measure

A judge’s decision follows which sets a healthy safety distance between the two madmen. Margaret must submit to a strict measure of removal. In other words, she no longer has the right to come into contact with her mother, nor to approach within a hundred meters of the family home, for a period of three months. This is an original plot if we consider that most of the stories are about bringing people together, which we are almost sure will also pose problems of fair distance.

The news item takes the form of a geometric (and umbilical) thriller whose suspense is due to the crossing of a few centimeters of a strip on the ground

If the film is not so much worth for its psychological sharpness, it is interesting by its determination to represent the balance of power between a mother and a daughter entangled in a mutual wrenching which does not want to be done. Examination of proximity, the work of the director is topographic: everything is a question of distance when Marion, the little sister, develops a system to draw in blue paint the famous security line required by the judge, until then too unreal to be accepted by the principal concerned. Her technique is diabolical: she hooks a hundred-meter rope to her mother’s chair and draws a circle using this giant compass.

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