Review: La Mif

Written and directed by Fred Baillif, a group of teenage girls have been placed in a residential care home with social workers. This forced family experience creates unexpected tensions and intimacies, one incident triggers a chain of over-reactions. Starring: Charlie Areddy, Kassia Da Costa, Amandine Golay, Claudia Grob, Joyce Esther Ndayisenga, Amelie Tonsi, Sara Tulu and Anais Uldry.

The strongest element of this film by a long shot is the acting, it most emphatically captures the emotions and themes of its story. Particularly through the performances of Claudia Grob and Joyce Esther Ndayisenga, each providing complex emotional experience from completely different points in life. Grob’s performance connects the whole cast together, her struggle in elderly years is the piece that shows them that what they’re going through isn’t unique to youth, everyone has their own trauma and grief. Kassia Da Costa’s Novinha provides a much more typical storyline of boisterous, overconfidence hiding a deep vulnerability and self-doubt, resulting from abandonment. It may not be an originally styled character but Da Costa still gives a uniquely touching performance. Amélie Tonsi and Amandine Golay provide a classically young, naïve romance, it doesn’t take much of a lead in the story but they have a sweet chemistry.

While the entire cast does a great job of bringing through the feeling in this story, unfortunately the writing for the most part is left wanting. Firstly, the choice to separate out their stories into chapters rather than telling them together, takes away from the feeling of being a family and becomes repetitive. There’s a key issue throughout which is its perspective, it’s a story entirely revolving around women which severely lacks a woman’s touch. The way it presents their relationships feels geared to create drama more than it does authenticity. It focuses on their conflict over their friendships which is a shame to see, it had the chance to show a group of young women connecting deeply over their shared trauma and instead has them vapidly at each other’s throats. It wanders into the odd moment of genuine discussion and sentiment but it doesn’t give itself the time to build on them. In turn making it harder for viewers to connect with them as an ensemble.

As well as that fairly repetitive back and forth, it struggles to move forward and the pacing becomes overly slow at times. It makes some poor choices in editing to coldly cut away from some of its strongest scenes, missing out on opportunities for truly moving moments. It simply feels like the priorities in telling this story were misplaced, trying to build an unconventional family by separating them out then very gradually telling their stories in pieces, unfortunately doesn’t work. It’s then paired with a score which completely contrasts to the tone of the story, favouring classical music attempting a purposeful clash for effect but it’s completely out of place and distracting.

La Mif fights against itself to tell a tale of women, friendship, trauma and family, lacking a woman’s perspective to bring it together. Its choice to separate into chapters slows down the progression and makes it feel repetitive. There are choices throughout which prevent it from smoothly blending to push this story where it deserved to go. However, it is filled with strong performances from a group of talented young women and Claudia Grob’s portrayal of grief, mental health and empathy will likely stick with you long after.

Verdict: ✯✯| 4/10

Coming to UK & Irish cinemas on 25 February 2022 

Reviewed as part of London Film Festival 2021

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