With “Acid”, Just Philippot films family and climate disruption


Acid opens with a video taken on the spot, with a slightly shaky image: trade unionists take on and kidnap the executives of their company. No doubt, we are in France. It has become a habit at Just Philippot, who had already directed the gripping agricultural horror film The Cloud (2021): horror emerges from French reality, whether socio-economic or ecological.

A seasoned trade unionist, Michal has been under judicial supervision since he beat up his boss. In this role of prole in struggle, we find a Guillaume Canet stripped of his usual attributes of golden boy of French cinema, all sober in the skin of this divorced father and surrounded on all sides by intimate disasters: a new partner who is seriously ill , and a tense relationship with Elise, his ex-wife – Laetitia Dosch, always so concrete and fair. They share custody of Selma (Patience Munchenbach), 15 years old, moved by her father’s reputation.

This small, intimate theater will slowly slip into the mold of the disaster film. It begins, as it often does, with the TV spewing out apocalyptic images of acid rain which, on the other side of the world, devastates everything in its path. Michal doesn’t feel concerned, his daughter blames him. But the generation gap has barely had time to widen before the deadly rains are already there, outside the window. The drama begins, forcing the ex-spouses to team up to survive. Not without irony, the filmmaker observes the way in which political convictions shatter in the face of cataclysm. The withdrawal into the family unit is perfectly metaphorized by a traffic jam scene, where passengers sheltered in their car try to ignore the cries for help from victims burned on the spot – American familyism is skillfully exposed.

Choice of tenuity

This entire second part is built on a series of very distinct scenes, survivalist stages which never cease to evoke War of the Worlds (2005), by Steven Spielberg, and his father divorced from the working class played by Tom Cruise. Precisely, at every moment, Just Philippot shows itself aware of the pitfalls which weigh on its ambition: that the spectator will not stop comparing Acid to its Hollywood models who over-impress themselves, and that it will be necessary to put on a big show without the punch or the budget of a Night M. Shyamalan film (Phenomena2008).

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