Before the collapse **
by Alice Zeniter and Benoît Volnais
French film, 1 h 40
In the scorching Paris of the near future, Tristan is the campaign manager of Naïma, the only candidate in the legislative elections to defend a break that meets the environmental challenges. He lives with Fanny, a teacher in a master’s degree in literary creation, his roommate and best friend.
It is to her that he turns when he receives a positive pregnancy test sent anonymously. Tristan finds himself all the more overwhelmed because his mother died at the age of 40 of Huntington’s chorea. This genetic disease is transmitted in one out of two cases to the offspring and leads to premature death after a total loss of autonomy. Like the majority of people at risk, Tristan, 35, never resolved to a test that would reveal his future – and that of a possible child. Tortuous call for help, bad joke or political maneuver? Destabilized, Tristan deviates from the home stretch of the elections.
Fantasy and despair
For their first film, Benoît Volnais and Alice Zeniter, novelist and playwright, paint a gallery of attractive and original characters. Tristan sinks into melancholy during his quest. Niels Schneider lends him a youthful grace and a painful depth. Around him, Ariane Labed (Fanny) and Myriem Akheddiou (Naïma) portray combative women, each in their own way full of energy and joy. The first supports Tristan on this path of impossible paternity which leads him from a moist Paris, made foggy by pollution, to a verdant Breton countryside.
Before the Collapse weaves together fantasy and despair nicely. He draws a parallel between intimate and collective breakdowns. Without fearing a theatrical dimension dear to Alice Zeniter, it varies the tones, the forms of realization and narration according to its chapters while maintaining its unity. His intense characters carry strong messages that irrigate the story. Energetically rooted in our troubled times, this film displays an unexpected freshness. Tristan builds himself little by little, until he discovers that a way out is possible.