Freelancer and aspiring journalist from Adelaide. Visual Arts graduate & current journalism student. Fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, art & food. I also write for The Adelaidian // theadelaidian.net/author/georgina-tselekidis
After reading a short summary about the French film In Bed with Victoria, I was convinced that it was just your typical feel good romcom, but was proven wrong by its incredibly surprising depth. As the story unfolded, I realised that behind the surface of this quirky tale, the viewer is faced with strong human connotations that aren't that funny at all, but realistic portrayals of our own personal hardships. The French are known for being complex, intellectual and emotional creatures who aren't afraid to put their feelings out there, and the viewer is reassured of this through the compelling characters that make up the film. As part of the 28th annual Alliance Franšaise French Film Festival, In Bed with Victoria is a contemporary take on relationships, self-identity, mental health and self-care, and getting by in this crazy thing we call life. It's not all sunshine, rainbows and a predictable happy ending, but a roller coaster of events that refreshingly comfort the viewer instead of intimidating or pressuring them.
Victoria (Virginie Efira) is a Parisian criminal lawyer, single mother and on the verge of having a major breakdown. On the surface, she looks like she's cool and together, but inside she is about to break. She has a fantastic job and two beautiful children, but she can't seem to find pleasure in any of it anymore, especially the bedroom. Her low libido is something she previously had no problems with, but now it's just another thing that she is beginning to lose, along with her patience. In the meantime, an old friend and ex-boyfriend of hers is accused of stabbing their partner, and Victoria is chosen to handle the case, which only adds to her burdens. The only thing keeping her slightly sane, is her newest ally and much younger love interest, Sam (Vincent Lacoste) and Xanax.
It's difficult to tell which direction the film is going initially, but as it progresses, many layers are revealed and we are drawn in by Victoria's damaged yet courageous persona. Played by Virginie Efira (Up for Love), Victoria is a combination of differences and contradictions - she is funny, loving, cynical, self-centred yet selfless, hardworking, stuck in a rut and emotionless but full of feeling, all at the same time. This is what makes her such an identifiable character that speaks to all women in the modern age. However, Efira also stuns us with her vivid portrayal of a unified society, not only identifying with the female gender, but with anyone who feels uncertain about where their life is headed. A mid-life crisis maybe, but this is a topic that is not unheard of amongst millennials and the like. The context is far from sugar-coated, just the way it should be, as Director Justine Triet successfully communicates that it's okay not to be okay.
The structure and cinematography of the film make these things stand out in their own right. Silent sequences, flashbacks, voice-overs, scenes crossing over other moments, montages with emotive musical layovers, and more stylised techniques make us a part of Victoria's emotional roller coaster. She stares into a void more than once and we are brought back and forth between her current scenario and a fleeting memory, yet we are unsure of which is happening first. Perhaps Triet intends for the viewer to understand Victoria's attempt to find her place amongst all the drama - 'You're the queen of drama queens'.Triet successfully conveys fundamental and key notions that make up human existence in the contemporary fast-paced world in which we live. Almost urgently confronting us through the use of witty comedy as a technique to establish connections to Victoria, as well as the other characters like Sam and Vincent (Melvil Poupaud) who give new meaning to the saying - 'no one is perfect'. The characters equally make us feel that there is a person for all of us; a person that will accept us when we are fragile and in need and almost desperate for human contact. It's difficult not to feel charmed by this unique interpretation of what it means to find yourself through it all, with a happy ending that doesn't always meet societal standards. It may be all in French, but In Bed With Victoria reaches out to a wide audience despite their language spoken.
The Adelaide French Film Festival commences on March 30 until April 4 and will feature In Bed with Victoria for a number of scheduled dates. Head to the official website to view session times and to purchase tickets.