Dir: Francois Dupeyron. France. 2013. 124mins
My Soul Healed By You (Mon Ame Par Toi Guerie) is a slowly engaging film from France”s Dupeyron (C’est Quoi La Vie, Clandestine). Its cast of blue-collar workers living in a trailer park in the sun-dappled South of France are a steady, believable bunch, led by the appealing Gregory Gaudebois. Examining spirituality and faith in credibly low-key manner, My Soul Healed By You can stumble, however, and a late but key relationship adversely affects the piece.
Dupeyron’s careful character-building is a key component of My Soul Healed By You and should find a resonance with audiences, along with the careful points the film makes about the nature of life.
Working from his own novel, Dupeyron’s main achievement here is the character of Freddi, played by Gaudebois, who dominates the film. This performance should draw attention in France and assist the film critically, and could also be of appeal to French programmers internationally, possibly even limited arthouse play.
Freddi’s mother, a healer, died five weeks ago and he has inherited her gift – but he refuses to have anything to do with it. “He is a man for whom no is no,” says his father sadly. Buzzing around the Cote D’Azur on his motorbike (nicely, naturalistically shot), to a folky guitar soundtrack (Nina Hagen, not so appealing) Freddi meets with his friends in a bar (called the Loch Ness) and gets on with his life until he crashes into a child and puts him in an irreversible coma in hospital.
Slowly, things begin to change for the devastated Freddi. The child’s plight, and that of his unhappy daughter Lucie, lead him to slowly rethink his attitude to his gift, which isn’t just confined to healing but also seems to involve clairvoyancy.
As he slowly becomes involved with the world, his long-dormant epilepsy also returns. “I’m always on the sidelines,” he says, and lonely Freddi, surrounded now by broken, unhappy people, longs for love.
So when unhappy alcoholic Nina arrives in a local bar, Freddi is hooked – but the relationship is far more challenging to the audience, and the film’s hard-won, loose credibility begins to unravel.
Dupeyron’s careful character-building is a key component of My Soul Healed By You and should find a resonance with audiences, along with the careful points the film makes about the nature of life. The style of the piece is also genially free-flowing, and while it can stumble, the film is mostly believable and low-key. Gaudebois, so impressive in Angel & Tony shines, although Celine Sallette, familiar to viewers of TV series The Returned (which also featured Gaudebois) struggles with the demands of rich alcoholic Nina.
Production company: Alfama Films
International sales: Kinology, www.kinology.eu
Producer: Paulo Branco
Screenplay: Francois Dupeyron, from his own novel Chacun Pour Soi, Dieu, S’en Fout
Cinematography: Yves Angelo
Editor: Dominique Faysse
Main cast: Gregory Gadebois, Celine Sallette, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Marie Payen, Philippe Rebbot