Cinematherapy for Testing Times
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Photo by Alex Litvin/Unsplash
Art + Stories, Experiences

Cinematherapy for Testing Times

A Dose of Movie Medicine
Jakub Popielecki
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time 10 minutes

Whenever reality starts to pinch, people always go on to seek some momentary consolation – or at least explanation – in films. But for the movie medicine to work, it has to be selected correctly.

When we all sat locked in our homes, one thing seemed obvious: somewhere, someone was surely writing a screenplay about a couple in crisis who, when stuck inside the four walls of their apartment, fall in love all over again. The idea was so predictable it simply had to come true – if for no other reason than to get it over with. And here it was: in January 2021, we saw the premiere of the comedy Locked Down, the quintessential story of two people who had nothing in common until lockdown brought them together. It wasn’t made by amateurs, either (written by Steven Knight, directed by Doug Liman, starring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor), but turned out to be a flop, nevertheless. The creators failed to find the right tone – serious where the scene needed some humour, and vice versa. It wasn’t much fun to watch a comedy about the things we were all currently struggling with at home – instead of bringing us comfort, Locked Down brought us down. However, the idea of taking the edge off the traumas of reality through cinematic fantasy was right. And there are many precedents to it, too.

Great Depression, great cinema

Movie medicine has often been administered to the public. Still, it is a very delicate procedure that requires precisely measured doses of reality and fiction. Get too close, and it hurts. Escape too far, and your point gets lost. Botched proportions seem to be the core reason why the creators of Locked Down failed in their attem

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Julia Ducournau at Cannes. Photo by Christophe Simon/AFP/East News
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Sensational. Surprising. Shocking. These are the words that have probably been used most often to comment on the verdict of the 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival. The jury, chaired by Spike Lee, awarded the Palme d’Or to French director Julia Ducournau for her subversive feminist body horror film Titane. Thus she became only the second woman in the festival’s long history, after Jane Campion, to receive the most precious laurel on La Croisette.

The 37-year-old Julia Ducournau made her name (also at Cannes) in 2016 with her debut feature Raw – winner of the Critics’ Week FIPRESCI Award. Immediately, she was dubbed the ‘queen of gore’, and has reaffirmed her title as the chief extremist of modern cinema with her latest work. She definitely does not shy away from extremes in Titane; the bodies are piled high, and blood gushes out in all directions. Those of a more sensitive disposition left the screening room in terror, while the more resilient wriggled nervously in their seats throughout the screening.

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