Men in a Woman’s World
Alice is embarking on a new job as a mechanic on the Fidelio, a commercial tanker boat. Water is her element, the ocean her wonderland. Barely affected by the separation from her perfect boyfriend, she ties her hair tight, ready to be covered in soot and sweat. As the boat’s interior still appears to us as a labyrinthine structure of greasy metal, a figure appears at a bend of one of its alleys: it is the Fidelio’s dashing captain. Their chemistry is so obvious it’s palpable, as is the memory of a shared history that shakes them like a subterranean earthquake.
The development of this reheated passion is one of the mysteries and pleasures of Lucie Borleteau’s beautiful first feature, which succeeds in making us both intrigued and almost instantaneously familiar with the particularities of the boat’s organization. Whatever the balance of acquaintance and curiosity drove the filmmaker’s immersion into this specific environment, she seems at ease with it and uses its dramatic angles and atmospheres as key parts of her agile compositions.
Standards are playfully reversed as we get to know a woman whose femininity is far remote from stereotypes but whose superstitions and views on love match our idea of a typical sailor. Private and public spaces are re-demarcated: while shared areas are narrow and functional, the nest of the cabin may not be as private a space as it ought to be; a diary ends up in a stranger’s hands, an adulterous affair quickly becomes the object of gossip.
“It hasn’t changed, I recognized it immediately”, says an emotional Alice about the boat. Just a bit of fresh paint. But ship and captain are one and the same: it’s really about her fidèle lover that she is talking. And if the Fidelio were to be failed by its mechanic, surely its romantic captain would sink together with it to the bottom of the sea.
«Historiquement, le discours de l’absence est tenu par la Femme: la Femme est fidèle (elle attend), l’Homme est coureur (il navigue, il drague)» a écrit Barthes. J’ai dragué, parfois aussi j’ai attendu, j’ai navigué; à la rencontre des marins, j’ai écouté le bruit du monde, de la mer, des amours perdues ou retrouvées.