A powerful choral film on restorative justice by Jeanne Herry, I will always see your faces features victims of assault who dialogue with attackers in order to regain control of their lives.
Introduced in Canada in 1996 and in France in 2014, restorative or restorative justice makes it possible to establish a dialogue between victims of crime and offenders so that both parties discuss the repercussions of these crimes in their lives. In I will always see your faces, Jeanne Herry (Elle l’adore, Pupille) powerfully demonstrates, without ever falling into didacticism or melodrama, the impact of such an approach by staging two types of secure justice systems restorative.
Throughout her childhood, Chloé (Adèle Exarchopoulos) was raped by her half-brother. Learning that he is preparing to return to live in his neighborhood, the young woman, accused by her grandmother of having broken up the family, calls on a mediator, Judith (Élodie Bouchez), in order to announce to her aggressor that she never wants to meet him again. The process will last many months during which Chloé will express to Judith her fear, her sadness and her anger.
Meanwhile, two of Judith’s colleagues, Fanny (Suliane Brahime) and Michel (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), lead meetings in prison between three victims of violent robberies, Nawelle (Leïla Bekhti), Grégoire (Gilles Lellouche) and Sabine ( masterful Miou-Miou, mother of the director), and three attackers, Nassim (Dali Benssalah), Issa (Birane Ba, revelation of the film) and Thomas (Fred Testot). Joining this circle of eight people will be two volunteers, Yvette (Anne Benoît) and Cyril (Pascal Sangla). “We listen, we welcome unconditionally,” says Paul (Denis Podalydès) to Judith, Fanny and Michel during a training workshop.
After tense exchanges where the victims are not tender towards the criminals, Jeanne Herry orchestrates a scene which proves to be both a moment of pure emotion and a great moment of cinema, the one where the participants, Issa in the lead, break the circle to become one around the fragile Sabine. Anyone who has reservations about the effectiveness of restorative justice could well lose them by seeing this moving ensemble film where each actor, magnificently highlighted by the filmmaker’s empathetic gaze, plays their part to perfection.
With a precise staging where a concern for truth is evident, I will always see your faces offers a gallery of nuanced and diverse portraits. So much so that, like the characters themselves, the spectator comes to forget who is the executioner, who is the victim. As if everyone were dropping their mask to reveal their humanity.