With his third feature, Stéphane Demoustier is giving us his take on the trial-movie. But it would be an understatement to say that he brings a fresh perspective to the table.
After a long and intriguing opening shot, that might be one of the quietest and most disturbingly peaceful arrestation scenes ever shot, the plot starts unraveling bit by bit. Lise, a sixteen-year-old teenager, has been accused of a crime and is going through trial, freely, but monitored by an electronic bracelet. One of the great ideas of the movie is to approach all the judiciary procedure from her perspective and that of her family. So here the lawyers, jury members and judges – who are always center-stage in trial movies – are only secondary, as instead, Demoustier chooses to show us the family day-to-day, in between the trial sessions. Because day-to-day is something that still has to be dealt with, no matter what, and it's something that cinema often overlooks; indeed there is nothing spectacular about it.
Lise's character tends to become more of a mystery as the film unfolds, as if there is something wrong with seeing a young girl trying to live her teenage life. The precision of the directing and the subtlety of the writing allows the viewer to enter a grey area, where Lise's guilt could almost be secondary yet never totally goes away. Her morality is being questioned, her sexuality is being scrutinized, we could almost think that she is put on trial for being a young girl in the twenty-first century. Even more astounding is the fact that her parents diverge in their approach to her situation: her father is there by her side for every step, whereas her mother keeps her distance from the trial.
La Fille au Bracelet is an overwhelming movie, because no matter what the issue of the trial will be, being accused has already taken a toll on Lise and her loved ones.