Working night shifts in a bar in Brest, Sylvie (Virginie Efira, Love and the Forests, by Valérie Donzelli) often has to leave her sons, Jean-Jacques (Félix Lefebvre, revealed in Summer 85, by François Ozon), unsupervised. anxious and bulimic teenager, and Sofiane (Alexis Tonetti), a turbulent boy with learning difficulties. The latter having suffered a second degree burn on his chest while trying to make fries, was soon sent to a foster home.

With her brothers, Hervé (Arieh Worthalter, The Goldman Trial, by Cédric Kahn) and Alain (Mathieu Demy), who are not great models of success, Sylvie, a loving and courageous mother, will have to fight to regain custody of Sofiane. Impulsive and thoughtless, at loggerheads with Miss Henry from social services (India Hair), Sylvie risks experiencing more setbacks than victories.

Coming from the documentary, Delphine Deloget delivers a first feature-length fiction film of remarkable maturity and with an undeniable concern for truth. Written with the collaboration of Camille Fontaine (Coco before Chanel, by Anne Fontaine) and Olivier Demangel (creator of the Tapie series), the story of Rien à lose is inspired by meetings with dozens of families and social workers made by the filmmaker. In this regard, the dialogues, both the mother’s lively repartees, the children’s words, the spats and the legal gibberish, prove to be of rare accuracy.

Taking effective advantage of the Breton setting, the director takes a look full of empathy, devoid of judgment, on this modest family in crisis, which echoes that found in the middle paintings of Mike Leigh (Secrets and lies) and Ken Loach (Ladybird). Nothing to Lose is also reminiscent of the cinema of the Dardenne brothers (Two Days, One Night) in the way in which the director of photography Guillaume Schiffman (Waiting for Bojangles, by Regis Roinsard) relentlessly tracks the characters and the careful editing by Béatrice Hermine (Cœurs vaillants, by Mona Achache).

While she skillfully handles the ellipsis and effectively maintains the suspense, Delphine Deloget takes the viewer into a crescendo of emotions until the heartbreaking finale. Surrounded by an impeccable cast, at the heart of which stands out the sensitive interpretation of Félix Lefebvre, the splendid Virginie Efira, without makeup, hairstyle and soberly dressed, shines with new brilliance.