98 minutes

Coming of age tales have been filmed to death over the past half century and it takes quite a distinct sensibility to make something new off such a hackneyed concept. Yet that is precisely French first-timer Mikhaël Hers' achievement in Memory Lane, even though its success depends on the viewer's tolerance to its peculiar emotional tonality - you do need to be on the correct wavelength to enjoy its small, melancholy charms. Mr. Hers' subjects aren't teenagers about to embark on adult life; rather twenty-somethings that have already left college and are awkwardly embracing proper jobs, live-in relationships, young families, all the while trying to retain the bridges they built during their suburban adolescence.
     Told as a flashback through the voiceover of Vincent (Thibault Vinçon), the story focuses on a "borderline" summer where a half dozen of friends through school meet again on their Parisian suburb home grounds for a month of parties, promenades and stock-taking, with a sense that their carefree years are getting behind them and life as an adult will never feel the same way. Sisters Muriel and Céline (Lolita Chammahg and Stéphane Déhel), both living and working in other French regions, have returned to learn their father is terminally ill; Raphaël (Thomas Blanchard) is in the throes of a serious depression, paralyzed by the idea of what the future might hold.
     Mr. Hers manages to perfectly capture the golden moment when people grow up and reluctantly realise they can't hold on to their past anymore; he does so through an exquisitely managed accumulation of apparently slight, run-of-the-mill moments, played note-perfect by a cast of mainly young actors and soundtracked by a smart selection of melancholy indie-pop that mirrors the film's lovely, attentive wistfulness. Elegantly and carefully assembled, Memory Lane is a lighter-than-air concoction whose delicate tone is the only way such a fragile storyline could work; that mr. Hers controls it so effortlessly is a good omen for his career.

Starring Thibault Vinçon, Dounia Sichov, Lolita Chammah, Stéphane Déhel, Didier Sandre, Bérangère Bonvoisin, Thomas Blanchard, Marie Rivière, David Sztanke, Louis-Ronan Choisy, Morgane Rouault, Caroline Baehr, Jeanne Candel, Hubert Benhamdine.
     Directed by Mikhaël Hers; produced by Florence Auffret; written by mr. Hers and Mariette Désert; music by David Sztanke; director of photography (colour, LTC/Scanlab processing), Sébastien Buchmann; production and costume designer, Catherine Cosme; film editor, Pauline Gaillard.
     A Les Films de la Grande Ourse presentation/production, with the participation of the French National Cinematography and Moving Image Centre and Cinécinéma, in association with Cofinova 6; with the support of the Brittany Region; with the collaboration of the Brittany Film Commission and Maison de l'Image Basse-Normandie. (French distributor, Ad Vitam. World sales, Films Distribution.)
     Screened: IndieLisboa 2011 official selection advance DVD screener, Lisbon, May 7th 2011.



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