Swann Arlaud and Maud Wyler in <em>Partridge</em>.
13 July 2020
Updated 17 July 2020 to 4h17
Partridge: deploy its wings *** 1/2
CRITICAL / Erwan Le Duc took the time before to complete his first feature film. But the ex-journalist in the World made a grand entrance in the French cinema with Partridge. His comedy is original, and just enough absurd offers as much humor offbeat reflections on the paths that we take (or not) in the life, all sprinkled with a romance sentimental as beautiful as implausible.
As soon as the first sequences of Partridge, the viewer is confronted with the burlesque of the director (between Wes Anderson and Quentin Dupieux). While Juliette Webb (Maud Wyler) performs an exposure in a roadside rest of the Vosges mountains, a naked woman steals his car. It is part of a band of nudists revolutionary who advocates the renunciation of the superfluous and who sows the trouble in stripping the people (or undressing in the middle of the street).
The catch is that the vehicle contains all the valuable books as Juliette’s writing since his childhood. The young woman, whimsical, and spirited, will arise in a way sensational in the life of the captain of gendarmerie Stone Partridge (Swann Arlaud).
The police officer, single, introverted, sinking into the routine with a mother (Fanny Ardant) who holds a letter from the heart for local radio; a brother, a biologist specializing in worms, and the latter’s daughter, ado revolt that wants to extricate itself from the ambient mediocrity and a family stifled by the father’s death 20 years ago.
The arrival of Juliet will serve as a revealing (in a version that is less extreme than Theorem (1968) of Pasolini). But the long film plays mainly in the contrast of personalities between Juliette Webb and Peter Partridge, as each tries, in its own way, to lead the investigation on the stolen car.
In this framework, relatively agreed, Erwan Le Duc bursts. The screenwriter and producer sprinkles his film with scenes incongruent and out of alignment. Especially with the nude, but also with a bunch of soft nerds who play the war by recreating a confrontation between the history that took place near the village during the Second world War… not to mention colleagues of Partridge!
The staging of the naturalist of The Duke is based on long shots framed wide enough that contrast with the eccentricity of the events that unfold in front of the camera. The filmmaker’s gaze is soft on its characters and manages to make poignant in their awkwardness.