“Fifi”: the beautiful escape of a teenager, number three of a family of seven

Fifi (Céleste Brunnquell) and Stéphane (Quentin Dolmaire), in


It’s not easy to keep accounts, there are so many of them. Seven, a priori. We catch on the fly Mickaël, Nadia, Frédérique… Children of all ages, from babies to young adults, live in a cramped apartment in a housing estate in Nancy with their parents. It is here, in the constant din of the family biotope, that Sophie, known as “Fifi”, number three, is condemned to spend her summer.

It won’t last. The 15-year-old quickly finds a way to escape, at least a few hours a day, from crying and screaming. When she bumps into an old friend about to go on vacation, she steals the keys to her house in the city center to come and rest there, in Goldilocks of the Grand-Est.

Passing a head from time to time in a world to which one does not belong: the argument of the film, with a minimal program – two homes: the innate and the acquired – first makes one think of the standards of the 1980s , The Cheeky, by Claude Miller, and Life is a long calm riverby Etienne Chatiliez.

But, unlike Charlotte (Charlotte Gainsbourg, in The Cheeky), captivated by a wealthy virtuoso pianist of her age, and Momo (Benoît Magimel, revealed as a child in Etienne Chatiliez’s film), who covets the silverware of the Le Quesnoys, Sophie (Céleste Brunnquell, spotted in the Arte series In therapy) has the practical mind that only great philosophers are endowed with… Taking advantage of the calm will allow her to access herself.

Awakening of a little squatter

First joint production by Jeanne Aslan and Paul Saintillan, which is partly inspired by the director’s childhood memories, Fifi chisels the beautiful escape of their little squatter so as to show her awakening, as obstinate as it is delicate, to silence, to the books and films found at her new address.

One of the film’s remarkable traits is the way it occupies two fundamentally different spaces without pitting them against each other. On one side, the apartment where promiscuity reigns, made perceptible by planes saturated with children, cupboards, noises, doors, bunk beds where the sleepers above can touch the ceiling with their feet. On the other, an interweaving of beautiful volumes with perfect proportions, large enough to accommodate Sophie’s gentle wanderings.

Beyond this original idea, which would be described as caricatural if it did not take on the trappings of the tale, Fifi borrows from Rohmerian summers when the teenager comes across Stéphane, her friend’s older brother, who has returned home unexpectedly. Between them, refined dialogues and an obsolete summer job which consists in inserting handouts in envelopes. A vacation out of time.

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