In “Memory”, Michel Franco films a crippled couple saved by love


At the end of this high school reunion, to which she had no desire to go, and from which she leaves abruptly because a man is looking at her, there is this uneasy girl, Sylvia (Jessica Chastain) , which we saw not long before in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, forbidding, locked in itself.

A funny guy, Saul (Peter Sarsgaard), the very one who was looking at her, a little moony, possibly dangerous, begins to stubbornly follow her, in the middle of the night, to the front of her house, where she curls up in panic behind her door with three locks also equipped with an alarm system. We are in New York, in a film shot on natural settings and in sequence shots by a slightly twisted Mexican director, Michel Franco.

The next morning, the guy sleeps peacefully on the sidewalk, next to the trash cans. Sylvia searches it, finds the number of a relative, calls him. She runs into her brother, Isaac. When he arrives, the situation becomes clearer: he watches over Saul, who is suffering from early dementia and cannot be left to his own devices. We leave with the two brothers, to get to know Saul, a very sweet, very endearing guy, whose illness sometimes leads us astray. In what we could call the setting up of the story, two crucial pieces of information are thus delivered to us. Distrust against the reign of appearances. And the measure of unusual which marks the meeting of two great victims of life, Sylvia and Saul.

For the moment, we have not finished with the bad vibes that are parasitizing their rapprochement. A social worker in a center for the mentally handicapped, Sylvia politely inquires about Saul’s fate from her brother. Which offers her, in her off hours, to take care of the latter, who has visibly taken a liking to her.

The first walk, however, turns into a nightmare. Sylvia suddenly recognizes Saul as one of the boys who regularly raped her in high school. He doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She then leaves him alone in the middle of the park, rewarding him with a “you deserve what you have”. However, it will be shown to him, a little later, that Saul was no longer at high school when Sylvia entered it.

Contemporary Harpy

At this moment in the film, we do not give much thought to the status of this female character, portrayed as a contemporary harpy prey to a passion for male destruction. This is the somewhat perverse side of Michel Franco, which undoubtedly explains the enmity that his work, of undeniable power, arouses among certain spectators.

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