She Will marks the first passage to the realization of the visual artist Charlotte Colbert. A psychological horror film, set in the highlands Scottish, who virtuously explores the ramifications of the traumatic experience.
Convalescent after the removal of both breasts (mastectomy), Veronica (Alice Krige), a star actress in her youth, retires to the Scottish countryside. A young nurse accompanies him, Desi (Kota Eberhardt). Despite the sometimes bitter actress’s initial reluctance, it is thanks to the sisterhood relationship that is established between them that Veronica will be able to reclaim the memory of a traumatic event.
Upon opening, She Will is placed under the sign of a great aesthetic ambition. In the Scottish night, the moonlight disturbs the surface of a lake. Impossible to distinguish where the watery element begins and where it ends. Charlotte Colbert works brilliantly with the material of her environment, playing with scales, going from the infinitely large of this lake which never seems to want to completely close, to the infinitely small of the slugs and other worms that inhabit the world. underground.
From one order of magnitude to another, the director places herself on the threshold of an optical vision too attached to linearity and intelligibility to listen and understand what surrounds her. No wonder then that Charlotte Colbert chooses to situate the main action of She Will in the vicinity of Aviemore, land of witches massacred between the 16th and 18th centuries.
The misty and muddy landscapes of highlands Scottish bear within their material, the memory of those – and those, in a minority way – who were judged and sentenced to death for witchcraft – that is for a practice lying outside the clear and explicit paths of reason.
embody the trauma
The setting of the horror genre film and its witches thus allows the director to historicize her story, without for all that renouncing fiction and the detours of the imagination. Veronica’s traumatic experience, and her memory, are part of a collective history: that of gender relations and power (whether symbolic or material).
It is indeed in contact with this land that the trauma of the actress will wake up. Charlotte Colbert draws up, in parallel, a gallery of characters, each more absurd than the other, which contrasts with Veronica’s distress. These comical characters above all allow us to grasp from the outset the nature of the events that will have marked her for life: an adolescent actress, she was abused, in the middle of filming, by the director (Malcolm McDowell, himself an actor, main protagonist of ‘Clockwork Orange…) of a film that has become cult.
We then understand that the form of She Will is not a vain gesture. The lively and very fragmented editing, specific to the horror genre, completely deconstructs the time and space in which Veronica evolves. These sequences, which then emancipate themselves from the linearity of the main narrative, are neither flashbacks nor really nightmares for Veronica. They are the continuous re-experience of the original trauma. These images, whose nature is sometimes difficult for the spectator to grasp, come to haunt his memory, which is also fragmented and incomplete.
In fact, Charlotte Colbert manages to find a way to materialize what is by definition unrepresentable: trauma. This almost indescribable physical experience is embodied here in the cinematographic form. And if the structure may seem redundant in some places, it is also because the traces left by such violence have lasting consequences that are almost unalterable.
An ambitious cinema
Desi’s character then becomes a pivot in the plot. Her enthusiasm and her attention allow Veronica to find, for the first time, an ally. She Will We therefore slip that there is a real challenge in drawing new relationships of solidarity to face the memory of an event that is nevertheless so intimate and singular.
This sisterhood at work in the film, and the circulation of words that accompanies it, calls for a double observation. If the experience of trauma is always singular, it also tends, unfortunately, to be universal, as the facts of sexual violence are widespread. However, the pooling of these experiences is a powerful resource to begin, at least, to reclaim it. A track that also passes through the sound architecture of the film which brings together a solitary woman’s voice and a choir, in several acts.
She Will is therefore an ambitious proposal of what cinema can do in its way of dealing with the traumatic experience linked to sexist and sexual violence. It is about faith in fiction and imagination. Essential resources for Charlotte Colbert to understand how memory takes charge of this trauma, until it becomes the alternative place of a possible joyful exorcism. Far from the beaten and hackneyed paths of a defeatist realism (see review of Bowling Saturn), the director slips us that this medium can give the victims leads to give shape to a whole part of an intimate story confiscated forever. Cinema as a power of reinvention, a fine ambition, isn’t it?
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“She Will” – All together – Maze.fr
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