We are used to seeing Paris’s powerful banlieues filmed with a type of blistering verité. Consider La Haine and Ladj Ly’s current Les Misérables – offended movies concerning the strain cooker brought on by poverty, police racism, underfunding and official neglect. Now with their mesmerising debut, Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh convey one thing completely different to the suburbs. The pair filmed this poetic film, with its streak of magical realism, in Cité Gagarine, a redbrick housing property on the outskirts of Paris, simply earlier than it was demolished in 2019. Inbuilt 1961, it was named after Yuri Gagarin, the primary man in house. Which could clarify why it is a film trying up on the stars.
It opens with precise footage of Gagarin visiting within the early 60s, mobbed by a cheering crowd, showered in a confetti of rose petals. The residents beam with optimism; the property gleams. Quick ahead 50 or so years, and the place is past restore, with cracks within the partitions, asbestos, rat infestation, and sellers within the corridors. However Gagarine is the one residence that Youri (Alséni Bathily) has recognized; he’s a shiny, space-obsessed 16-year-old with a gorgeously shy smile. And like many children on the property, he’s from an immigrant household. Lately it’s simply him and his mum, who is usually off together with her new boyfriend; however Youri is surrounded by neighbours who keep watch over him. The movie is excellent at exhibiting the neighborhood of the Gagarine with out downplaying its issues. “We’re offended, however we’re comfortable right here,” says one man to the council.
Youri has an idealistic plan to repair up the constructing: get the lifts working, change lightbulbs in communal areas. Then the authorities received’t find a way demolish it, will they? He units to work along with his greatest buddy Houssam (Jamil McCraven) and Diana (Lyna Khoudri), a lady from the native Roma neighborhood. After all, that’s not how constructing regs work. And when the demolition crew strikes in, Youri stays put, hiding within the flat, remodeling it right into a mini spaceship, full with a UV-lit greenhouse. It’s right here that the storytelling takes on a gravity-defying lightness with a few moments that convey a Shut Encounters of the Third Variety sense of surprise to the film.