A shooting will take place quoted Picasso, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais. A director ‘casts’ four teenagers to star in an unlikely-titled social film, Pissing Against the North Wind. In the neighborhood, everyone is surprised: why did you only take “the worst”?
By making a film on the set of a film, starring four teenagers from a popular housing estate in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, Les pires takes up the mise en abyme process, to ask interesting questions, both on art and on society. Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret sign an astonishing, very well directed debut feature. And they take a critical look at both the power of cinema and the “social voyeurism” of our age of visual reality television.
The idea for the film came to them while they were “wild casting” with children for a short film. They wanted to go further, by questioning the legitimacy of their approach.
The film multiplies the reading levels. Les pires is a cross between The American Night, Truffaut’s unequaled homage to the magic of cinema, and a social film by Bruno Dumont (or the Dardenne brothers). Moreover, the film navigates between these two genres, without ever choosing. Does it use vulnerable children to craft strong realistic artwork? Or to better understand their difficult daily life? The answer is not clear to us.
In the era of social networks and other reality shows, the idea of staging non-professional actors is nothing new. But here, we are more in the nuance than in the effusion. The faces of the teenagers are framed in close-ups. Like blank canvases on which the camera captures almost all primary emotions. Little Ryan’s anger, Maylis’ sadness, Lily’s joy; and the fear buried under the mask of Jessy’s contempt. They are all glaringly true.
“I don’t like it when people look at me on camera,” says little Ryan, at the start of the very agitated filming. I feel like people are laughing at me. “You have to trust what you feel,” the fake film’s Flemish director (Johan Heldenberg) replies.
In The Worst, we have to trust emotionally charged images. There are as many smiles as tears, violence as tenderness. But above all a great love for the truth of the heart. We understand why this feature film conquered the public in France and received the Un certain regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival last May.
Finally, the worst apples in the city are pearls on the big screen.