In the cinema from June 2, “Des hommes” by Lucas Belvaux adapts the eponymous book by Laurent Mauvignier and signs a sincere drama on the psychological wounds of Algerian veterans.
What is it about ?
They were called to Algeria at the time of the “events” in 1960. Two years later, Bernard, Rabut, February and others returned to France. They were silent, they lived their lives. But sometimes it takes almost nothing, a birthday, a gift that fits in your pocket, for forty years later, the past bursts into the lives of those who thought they could deny it.
Des hommes, written and directed by Lucas Belvaux.
Four years after his Chez nous policy, Lucas Belvaux comes back with a subject just as strong and committed thanks to Men, adaptation of the eponymous novel by Laurent Mauvignier, published in 2009. The Belgian director summons a fine cast, from Gérard Depardieu to Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Catherine Frot, in the service of an intrigue on the memory and the invisible scars of former soldiers.
“It is often said that the elders of Algeria did not tell, I especially believe that no one wanted to hear them, says the filmmaker in the press kit. They were condemned to this unsaid, this silence, which is the mark of the Algerian war. This is what I wanted to bring to the screen since I read the book.“
First previewed at the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival in August 2020, Men arrives in theaters at the right time, a year before the 60th anniversary of the end of the Algerian war. For Lucas Belvaux, it is also an opportunity to address, as in his previous feature film, the question of racism in a society marked by the rise of the extreme right. “The FN was largely built on the ashes of that war“, he recalls.
Of men is, however, not one artwork activist, as its director emphasizes. “The film questions the way of telling this story, how we assume it, how we transmit it, how we reconcile the different stories because, obviously, there are several ways of telling, he specifies. The Pieds-Noirs were misunderstood, badly treated, during and after. Even today, there is an anti-blackfoot racism that is unbearable. Besides, there is not a single “blackfoot point of view” because like any human society, it is a community crossed by politics, social issues.“.
To bring this subject to a successful conclusion, the director constructs his film between the present and the past with numerous flashbacks. The character of Gérard Depardieu, stunning in his role as a veteran, also appears young, in the guise of the revelation Yoann Zimmer, whom many have seen in Summer 85 by François Ozon.
“I thought of [Gérard Depardieu] throughout the writing of the adaptation“, said Lucas Belvaux for whom this choice was obvious, like Catherine Frot. For the role of Rabut, the task was more complicated. According to the filmmaker, the character asks”absolute rigor and total confidence in the work“.”Jean Pierre [Darroussin] is a champion in the genre“, he continues.
Narrated by an almost omnipresent voice-over, Men breaks the silence around the battlefield experiences of former soldiers. Trapped in their silence for decades, they are honored by the director who signs an important and necessary film for the duty of memory.