Freedom comes with a price. As runaways race towards their future, they may be unable to stop and attend to the wounds of the people they have left on the side of the road, however much they care for them. It’s cruel and unfair, as life sometimes insists on being.
Nadir Moknèche, the director of films such as Viva Laldjérie and Goodbye Morocco, has told the stories of people, mostly women, who were leading such relentless fights for their liberty. Life-changing escapes that required hard work, sacrifice, unflinching determination and enough cold bloodedness to stand up to a brutal, male-dominated world. The French-Algerian filmmaker has cast an affectionate and admiring eye on such outstanding women, interpreted by actresses who naturally project this sort of exceptional strength and resilience.
The latest of his chosen heroines is a great lady of French cinema, Fanny Ardant, who in Lola Pater takes on, with her usual elegance and smoothness, the challenge of embodying a woman who once was a man. The story of an individual’s battle for a better life, as always with Moknèche, this time involving the correction of a sex misassignment. Lola is now a beaming dance teacher, even if Farid, her former identity, lives on through paper contracts. But if Mother Nature tolerates little fixes here and there for her mistakes, the society of men, unsurprisingly, does not. And a young man eager to finally meet his father will not easily accept the bargain of acquiring a new mother instead.
Filmed by versatile cinematographer Jeanne Lapoirie, who signed the beautiful photography of Locarno alumni La Belle Saison and Dans la forêt, Lola Pater is a touching tale of acceptance and love. It should be obvious – but somehow it often isn’t – that the one doesn’t go without the other.