In “Nothing to lose”, Virginie Efira facing the judicial mechanics

In “Nothing to lose”, Virginie Efira facing the judicial mechanics


Until then, everything was going well with Sylvie, who is raising her two children alone in Brest (Finistère). A modest but warm living environment, good understanding between generations, a taste for music and partying. But one night, Sofiane, the youngest, burns himself with the boiling oil from the fryer while his mother is at work. Accident ? Lack of supervision? Mistreatment? The administrative and judicial machine is racing. The hospital makes a report, social services take over the file, the specialized judge orders placement in a home. Sylvie resists, calls on a lawyer, forces the locks, asks those around her for help, participates in discussion circles… but nothing changes.

Presented in May at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard selection, Delphine Deloget’s first feature film takes the form of a duel in which the adversaries do not wield the same weapons. On one side, Sylvie (Virginie Efira), omnipresent and elusive, in a permanent state of emergency. On the other, the social worker (India Hair), stationary, delicate voice, rigid appearance.

On the successful model of the French trial films seen recently ( Anatomy of a Fall , by Justine Triet, and The Goldman Trial , by Cédric Kahn), Nothing to Lose does not decide, refuses to develop a normative discourse on the well- be of the child and invites spectators to learn about the family past, ambivalences, compromises over time, similar cases to form their opinion… This detailed approach makes the film as relevant as it is exhilarating.

Is Sylvie facing an administrative aberration? Is the precautionary principle, adopted by justice and social services, productive? Is a mother’s love enough to raise her child? What can we expect from the radical nature of a measure that drives members of a family crazy? How can you use common sense when you live with a chicken that clucks in the middle of the living room, when you work in a nightclub until the early hours, when a drug-addicted older brother sleeps in your bed?

Scattered intimacies

Unlike La Tête haute (2015), by Emmanuelle Bercot, on the journey of a placed adolescent whom a children’s judge and an educator try to save, Nothing to Lose distances itself from the social film with solutions. On the path to romance, his big question is not so much practical – what to do with this child? – that emotional: the war of adults on the educational front, the spiral which leads to madness, the ardor of filial love, the extended family, the friends… Escaping from the mechanics of the textbook case, the film describes scattered but coherent intimacies which form a highly held whole.

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