We note the landing, Wednesday December 13, on the French cinema tarmac of a Hollywood film for adults. It is no longer every day that we are entitled to it given the pre-pubescence which strikes the former dream factory. This is a delicate, subtle, intelligent, funny, and very consoling work among the hectoliters of blood and vomit of hatred which are poured daily on our sons. So we’ll run there with our eyes closed. The author of this little grace is called Alexander Payne, he is 62 years old, and has eight feature films under his belt since Citizen Ruth , made in 1996.
The filmography is characterized by a cheerful melancholy, coupled with a discreet temerity, and often takes place in Nebraska, its author’s native state. We can see Reese Witherspoon, too perfect a candidate in a high school election, tearing down the posters of all her competitors in a poorly controlled hateful discharge ( L’Arriviste , 1999). Jack Nicholson plays a retiree who suddenly wonders what the ugly old woman who shares his bed is doing ( Mister Schmidt , 2002). Or Matt Damon, miniaturized for ecological reasons and abandoned by his wife, falling in love with an angry, one-legged Vietnamese woman ( Downsizing , 2017).
And today Payne takes us back to the seventies of the last century. Or a posh New England college, giving off the impression of patrician opulence from the building, padded with Christmas snow which enhances its quiet beauty. Christmas is approaching, preparations for returning home are in full swing among both students and teachers. Basically, everyone leaves, except for a few cripples who, for some reason
The situation initially concerns a few students who can be counted on the fingers of one hand, Mary the cook (Da’vine Joy Randolph), and Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti), the old-style and pedantic ancient history teacher. on whose shoulders his colleagues bear, each year, the burden of supervising the students remaining at the college. But the noose quickly tightens, making the situation even more cruel. Invited by one of their classmates to come join them in the family mountain chalet, all those left behind spread out with the permission of their parents, with the exception of Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa), whose family are absent subscribers.
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