Valérie MassadianFrance / Portugal128 minutes2017ColourFrench
Valérie Massadian's second feature, following the award-winning Nana, is again about a young woman coming to understand the world — but unlike the four-year-old Nana, Milla's eponymous, 17-year-old protagonist (played by Séverine Jonckeere) has already graduated from the middle school of life. Completely bereft of sentimentality, Massadian's expansive portrait takes place in a port town in northern France, where Milla and her boyfriend Leo (Luc Chessel) set up in an empty house that is gradually transformed into a home. Life itself (and, indeed, nature) intervenes after Leo takes a job on a fishing boat, and Milla, suddenly with child, must persevere alone. With her precise photographic eye, Massadian crafts an empathetic mise en scène that is at once distancing and intimate, and occasionally interrupts her determined naturalism with both narrative ellipses and moments of brazen artificiality. Sometimes to be simple is to be daring, and in creating Milla's world and allowing her to live in it, Massadian has fashioned a moving, memorable, and transformative work that begins and ends with two different, yet equal, kinds of love.