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The Five Devils ★★★★



Director: Léa Mysius

Cast: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Sally Dramé, Moustapha Mbengue, Swala Emati

Release Date: 24th March 2023

There is no doubt that Adèle Exarchopoulos is thriving in French cinema lately. After masterful turns in Sibyl, Zero F***s Given and Mandibles, her creativity is thriving and breathing a new lease of life to her craft. The Five Devils is directed by Léa Mysius, whose directorial debut, Ava, truly grabbed my attention. The screenwriter-turned-director can conjure beguilingly unique films, and the combination of Mysius and Exarchopoulos is not to be missed.

The film follows swimming instructor Joanne (Exarchopoulos), who is married to a fireman called Jimmy (Moustapha Mbengue). Their mixed-race daughter Vicky (Sally Dramé), suffers at the hands of school bullies. When Jimmy’s sister Luisa (Swala Emati) returns after ten years, rumours fly. Old memories are stirred, and anxieties are heightened, especially for Vicky, who can travel back to observe what happened a decade earlier.

The Five Devils is a wonderous realist-fantasy tale from Léa Mysius. It has an abundance of originality and is well-layered. The tonal momentum of it all grabs you and never lets you go. Mysius combines the essence of time and repression in a gentile manner. A shroud of mystery keeps you on your toes and guessing what might happen next. As the camera glares at us, we explore this unique world crafted before us. It feels utterly ordinary, but it has a mysterious sense of spirituality.

Vicky’s power is remarkable; we descend deeper into this labyrinth of truths as she learns more about her mother’s past. The sensual nature of how she can go back in time is truly an emotional deep-dive. As we grow older, we learn more about our parent’s past, while sometimes it can be joyful knowing there are skeletons in the closet. Understanding life’s traumas at a young age are never uncomplicated, and Vicky sees things that no child should witness. Some say we inherit our parent’s trauma, and The Five Devils delves into this with great finesse and imagination.

Sally Dramé’s performance is phenomenal and unforgettable. To conjure such emotions at a young age and maintain such a strong screen presence is unreal. Adèle Exarchopoulos compliments Dramé as her mother, her layered approach and captivating presence allow the narrative to shift and twist into your subconscious. Léa Mysius’s career as a director can only grow stronger from here. Her originality and vision are a breath of fresh air to French cinema.

Lover of all things indie and foreign language. Can be found rambling on YouTube at times!

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