“Edouard Louis, or the transformation”: portrait of a reinvention

“Edouard Louis, or the transformation”: portrait of a reinvention


Having become rare on the big screen, director François Caillat left, between an intimate essay and a documentary, some delicate and memorable traces. We remember The Fourth Generation (1997), Welcome to Bataville (2008) or A Youth in Love (2013). It is an exercise both more conventional, and therefore more perilous, which brings it back to the attention of film buffs, namely the portrait of a writer, in this case that of Edouard Louis, a 31-year-old novelist who has already been talked about a lot.

Born Eddy Bellegueule in Hallencourt, in the Somme, in a modest environment, he moved away from it during his high school years in Amiens, studied sociology at the Ecole Normale Supérieure from 2011, and in 2014 wrote his first resounding novel. entitled Putting an End to Eddy Bellegueule (Threshold). The program is contained in the title. It is the novel of a class defector, who must radically break with the values of an environment from which he feels he has been rejected, to adopt a new identity, more in line with his own desire. It is this decisive, liberating moment that François Caillat decides to evoke in Edouard Louis, as if from the start, while filming it in the deserted streets of the places which were the scene (in Amiens), in a sort of long journey back sensitive.

The filmmaker’s “operational technique”, which plays on the spontaneity of reflection, thus makes us discover an Edouard Louis at least as intelligent as the one we know, but whose sunny and laughing charm, sometimes shrouded in worry, manifests itself as Never.

However, it seems, fundamentally, that he is not revealing anything here that his readers would be unaware of or that his numerous portraits in the media have not already taught us. The bitter shame of the environment of origin, the revelation of homosexuality, the change of surname, the feeling of imposture at high school, emancipation through culture, the essential meeting with the alter ego Didier Eribon, the influence Bourdieusian social determination on his thinking, the absolute imperative to reinvent oneself from scratch. We recognize there the motifs of an intimate experience transformed by Edouard Louis into a literary epic.

Radical thinking about rupture

This bias, which explores the same idea at the risk of making its expression repetitive, has the effect of immobilizing the film. Would it not have been more profitable to follow its evolution and inflections in thought and the work itself, as evidenced by his latest books ( Who killed my father , Seuil, 2018, and Fights and metamorphoses of a woman , Seuil, 2021)?

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