A former dancer, Damien Manivel had yet to devote an entire film to that artform. That he now does so with his fourth feature film speaks volumes about the need to teach as a filmmaker, while also suggesting that it was present in his previous films. Not in an obvious way (the comically gauche esthete in A Young Poet (2014) or the man with the dog in Un dimanche matin (2012) are as much dancers as I am), but in a more prosaic manner, through the use of a certain art of running time, movement, and space. If we look back, for example, on the man-dog duo in Un dimanche matin, the leash that connects them already allowed for a certain elastic survey of the shots, sculpting a peculiar feeling of time via duration.
Such an art can be summarized in the word “concentration”: the search for an agreement and a tension between emotion and directorial economy, the search and execution of a gesture that, beyond all concern for perfection or technique, gives a strength of prowess to ordinary moments, and flushes out the beauty in what is mostly silent about reality. As surprising as Janet Leigh’s exit in the middle of Psycho, the sudden disappearance of the actress (Agathe Bonitzer) who marks the start of Isadora’s Children is pure logic: the only thing to identify with in this case lies in the legacy of gestures that each of the summoned bodies, serving as front row spectators, turn into their own story.