Something In The Air is the kind of film I love. A subtle slow character study, delving into the lives of its ensemble over the course of a summer.
Student unrest in early ‘70s France places our high school cast amongst the backdrop of a ramshackle communist movement dictated by teenage angst, a desire to belong, and a moderate feeling that something is wrong with the world. As graduation comes, the former friends go their own ways – travel across Europe and India, mundane jobs, and artistic pretensions are all included. It’s a time for growing, and I bloody love a film about growing.
The crux of the film is Gilles, played beautifully by Clément Métayer. His relationships with girls, his father, a friend, art, and communism all come under slow burning scrutiny. It’s a triumph of the actor that you barely notice his character development until the end of the film, when it becomes clear that those around him who seemed to have such defined lives and clear development have in fact learned very little, while Gilles has had time to wrestle with his feelings and convictions, growing into an almost-adult.
The backdrop of post May 1968 France is a fascinating one, and director Olivier Assayas (perhaps best known in the UK for Carlos the Jackal) imbues a real sense of time and place. Something In The Air never really addresses the reasons for the movement or its ultimate lack of results, but by exploring the characters caught up in it, Assayas has produced a wonderful film.
Viewed at: Renoir