Elsa Amiel, France, Switzerland, 2019o
Eden Palace, international bodybuilding competition for women: Lea Pearl competes for the title of Miss Heaven to reap the rewards of years of work. A few hours before the final, however, she sees the shadows of the past appear: Her ex-husband arrives at the hotel together with their six-year-old son, whom she hasn't seen since she was a baby, to deposit the little one with her. Pearl tries to save the secret, which she has kept for years, over the distance, because her iron old coach, with whom she sometimes shares the bed, knows no pardon in such cases.
Born in France in 1979, the Swiss Elsa Amiel has been working for almost twenty years as an assistant director and temporary actress on French films, including auteurs such as Noémie Lvovsky, Mathieu Almaric and Emanuel Finkiel (La douleur). Her first long feature after two short films shows her long experience in every picture. In spectacular close-ups and contrast-strong, stylized long shots, she recreates the fetishization of the body that characterizes bodybuilding. The glossy aesthetics contrast sharply with the apathy with which the title heroine prepares for the competition. Step by step, in a strictly calculated interplay between compressed short scenes and dialogue sequences that take hold of space, Amiel explores Pearl's inner contradiction between show bizz and mother role, and up to the very last moment she pursues an understatement that forces the audience to independently supplement the psychological mosaic of gaps. Even though the characters always remain a bit strange to you, the story ends with a conclusive end beyond the clichéd exclusiveness of show life or motherhood. Pearl's search continues - the Swiss bodybuilder and amateur actress Julia Föry was nominated for the Swiss Film Prize for her embodiment of Pearl.Andreas Furler
Féerique, étrange, elle exerce fascination et répulsion, Elsa Amiel, dont c'est le premier film, morcelle ce corps hypertrophié par de très gros plans fétichistes, transformant à vue cette héroïne en créature chimérique, devenue l'objet de fantasmes tourmentés.Xavier Leherpeur
Une œuvre de l’étrange, sombre et fascinante, dont l’intensité psychologique dépasse largement l’exercice de style téméraire. Bouleversant.Frédéric Mignard