Day Ten of the 2014 Rendez Vous with French Cinema
Going Away is the kind of film that grabs hold, pulls you in, and never lets go. Based on the way it starts, I could never have guessed how it would end, but when the credits rolled I sighed a great sigh: “Ah, perfect!”
So here is my quandary: How do I tell you enough to make Going Away sufficiently interesting without giving too much away?
A teacher in a village somewhere in the south of France has finished his temporary assignment at a middle school and is getting ready to enjoy a low key holiday weekend before heading off to his next assignment. But then he notices that one of his students is standing outside alone, still waiting for pick-up long after everyone else has departed.
The simple offer of a ride home becomes something much more complicated when it turns out the kid’s father not only doesn’t expect him but has no intention of changing his own weekend plans in order to care for him. Obviously there are reasons why the teacher “Baptiste” (Pierre Rochefort) let’s himself get drawn into the plight of his student “Mathias” (Mathias Brezot), but if I tell you more I will not only say too much, I will also say things that make the situation sound more simple than it is.
What makes Going Away so good is the emotional complexity of the story as crafted by director Nicole Garcia and her screenwriting partner Jacques Fieschi (a story that is much deeper than you would guess from reading a plot summary), and the understated excellence of the actors who bring these characters to life onscreen.
Baptiste turns out to be more fragile than he initially appears to be, and Mathias’s mother “Sandra” (Louise Bourgoin) turns out to be stronger than she initially appears to be, and once they meet, they snap together like long-lost puzzle pieces. But wait: I fear maybe I’ve already said too much!
Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. Highly recommended by both of us.
Top Photo: “Sandra” (Louise Bourgoin) at work.
Middle Photo: Dominique Sanda as Baptiste’s mother “Liliane.”
Bottom Photo: Sandra and Baptiste arrive at Liliane’s home in Seilh (near Toulouse).
Photo Credits: Pallier-Colinot Aurélien & Carole Bethuel
Question: Does Going Away pass the Bechdel Test?
Sandra has scenes with Liliane that are absolutely priceless. You could watch these scenes and think they are “talking about Baptiste,” but that’s not quite right.
It would be more accurate to say that they are sizing each other up, measuring each other—and measuring themselves—against what they each think will be best for him. It’s an intense pas de deux, and these two actresses interact brilliantly with one another.
Sandra also has brief scenes with “Lili” (Juliette Roux-Merveille) at work which add a few welcome notes of female camaraderie to the mix.
Final Question: Where is this place? I’m not sure where Sandra’s beach is located, but IMDb says Liliane’s home is located in Seilh on the French side of the Pyrenees.