Xavier Legrand ruthlessly and lucidly isolates the genes of sexist violence (****)

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Maintains Xavier Legrand that just as important as protecting the victim of violence against women is eradicating the origin of the sexist aggression itself. It is not, he adds, about filling the streets with police but about creating the conditions so that police officers are no longer necessary. It seems obvious and, as soon as one looks at his latest film (the speaker is a film director, not a minister), he quickly realizes that few things are as photogenic as obvious. ‘The successor’ (The Successor) is the second feature film by the filmmaker who in 2017 surprised with ‘Under custody‘. The two works talk about the same type of violence; Both delve into that space, institution or, if necessary, illness that is called family, and both become strong in their most absolute simplicity. Obvious even.

‘The successor’ tells the story of a man who one day is surprised by the death of his father. He is the star designer of a famous fashion house. When he goes from the Paris where he works to Montreal where his father has died, he will come across one of those secrets that not only change a life, they even ruin it. The son will first discover that the father he thought he knew and whom he hated was another, another person with another life, who deserved to be hated even more. But the surprise, in reality, comes later. When in a second discovery he realizes that everything that disgusts him about the deceased is exactly him, then there will be no remedy. Discovering that you are what you have spent your entire life trying not to be, first, is disconcerting and then, at the very least, distressing. It sounds convoluted or tremendous and, in reality, it is nothing more than Oedipus one step away from tearing out his eyes. So obvious.

Legrand once again resorts to the most traditional and simple elements of classical tragedy to compose a modern intrigue very close to terror. The film begins with a strange overhead shot of a fashion show. It is a baroque, exuberant and strangely confusing image. Almost a dream. The scene seems like a kind of prologue that, in its own way, contradicts everything that comes after. What follows is a linear story, but full of accidents that, far from being simply arbitrary, seem rather cathartic. They are not tricks, they are disasters. And what is settled is how heredity ends up determining a good part of what we are, even if we don’t want to, even if we are not aware of it at all.

A slight pain in the chest reveals to the protagonist the possibility of carrying a heart condition in his genes. But not only that, DNA can also be the repository of the darkest. Yeah ‘Shared custody’ turned the obsession of a loving father suddenly deprived of his son into a monster more typical of a horror movie, ‘The successor’ It is more subtle and crueler at the same time. Now, it is the son who, with the passage of time, finds out that he is possessed by the father. Sexist violence is inherited, it is there, it possesses us, It would be the not at all hidden moral of this feverish display of cinema that is as tremendously effective as it is, in fact, obvious. We have arrived.

Jaione Camborda also presented his second production at the controls. And also, for the sake of coherence, he makes it rhyme with the first just like Legrand. ‘Arima‘, his debut in 2019, was a forest film that was sought in the fog; It was a slightly abstract film, full of suggestions and built in a low voice on the whispers of four women. It was Novo Cine Galego, but, very much in its own way, without rules, very aware of its uniqueness. ‘The cuckold’ It counts as a work of maturity where many of the findings of that first stroke are now applied forcefully, with narrative clarity and, yes, with the same delicacy.

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