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Survival in the midst of war and social divide, identity theft, moral struggle, willing delusion…
Aurélia Georges’ third feature film, La Place d'une autre, explores fate and choice, and unlikely bonds in desperate times.
Taking the novel, The New Magdalen (1873) by Victorian mystery author Wilkie Collins as a starting point, it sets the drama in France in the early days of World War I.
There, the young Nélie earnestly seeks redemption and a ticket out of misery and prostitution by becoming a devoted and resourceful nurse at the front. That ticket appears at the price of a seemingly harmless little white lie, by taking the opportunity given to another woman, who apparently can no longer take it herself.
The classic construction gradually builds up a tension that eventually comes more from the characters’ inner struggles with their own convictions than from the truth – a concept that might seem a little overrated.
The film brings together on the screen three of French cinema’s greatest female talents of different generations: the marvelous Sabine Azéma – no introductions needed; Maud Wyler – especially unforgettable in Perdrix (The Bare Necessity, 2019), and who is back in Locarno after presenting L'Ordre des médecins (Breath of Life) in Piazza Grande in 2018; and Lyna Khoudri, the revelation of Les Bienheureux (The Blessed), that earned her the Orizzonti award for best actress in Venice 2017, and co-star of Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch (2021). Alongside them, the still unfairly overlooked Laurent Poitrenaux (Le Ciel étoilé au-dessus de ma tête, The Starry Sky Above Me, 2018).