Drama/Romance, 9 min
Log line: A dying woman recounts the story of her forbidden love affair with a girl in Catholic school.
…flashbacks progressively cut back and forward between past and present as we are given glimpses into the deep-felt secret young love between Adeline and Helene.
Adeline (dir. Audrey Biche) is a beautifully filmed short about love and the joy and sorrow of it. Set in a care home in which we meet an elderly Adeline (Patricia Couvillers), who is terminally ill, as she recalls a long-ago forbidden love whilst at Catholic school. Set in a flashback non-linear style narrative where we are introduced to two characters in the past and present. Young Adeline, played with a rich emotive rawness by Eloise Blomme and young Helene, played by an equally talented Camille Merite, as Adeline’s forbidden love.
We are introduced to present day Adeline sitting in a wheelchair in a stark hospital hallway being talked about by a care worker in not so pleasant terms and as if she isn’t in earshot of what’s being said about her. One afternoon Adeline is handed a letter that clearly disquiets her from someone named Helene Gautier. In this moment we are taken straight to a flashback of a clearly terrified young Adeline who is being scolded by a cold, foreboding mother superior (Benedicte Charpiat) who towers over her spectre-like. When Adeline is coldly told to, ‘Hand it over this instant,’ we are left wondering what the awful thing is she must have done. When the nun further states, ‘Proper young women do not chew gum.’, we are left roiling our eyes. However, as the nun proceeds to viscously grab Adeline’s mouth and force her to swallow the said gum, a feeling of foreboding for what’s to come is felt in the pit of our stomachs. Because if the nun feels so strongly about a piece of gum, what will happen if Adeline is caught with another girl.
Here the flashbacks progressively cut back and forward between past and present as we are given glimpses into the deep-felt secret young love between Adeline and Helene. The scenes are played with a gorgeous genuine authenticity by both actors with each silent, longingly held, lock-eyed gaze the characters share. The leads clearly delivering a depth of feeling and emotion well beyond their young years.
I quickly became emotionally invested with the characters in this short. In the scenes set in the past I found myself on the edge of my seat waiting to see if my fears and suspicions would come to fruition and they would indeed get caught by the wholly frightening and spiteful mother superior. In the scenes set in the present, expressive and heartfelt performances by Couvillers (Playing older Adeline), her clearly kind nurse (Alexander Cole) and an older Helene Gautier (Eva Quinto,) all perfectly added to the emotional beauty of the film.
Biche really packs an emotional punch with this beautiful short film that pulls at the heart strings and creates a tale of lost love thwarted by religious convention and cruelty. The directing is flawless and the story told with a seamless flow, all the performances are top notch and delivered to perfection and the flashback scenes are cut faultlessly and create a tense roller coaster of suspense and emotion. A brilliantly poignant little short not to be missed.
Reviewer and Writer
Alex has worked as a film stills photographer, written stories for a museum promotion campaign and has had her work featured on the cover of an Australian based lesbian magazine. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree, focusing on film, writing and photography from Perth’s Edith Cowan University.
She is currently working on a documentary project centred on lesbian refugee women’s experiences, combining her love of documentary film, photography and her current role as an occupational therapist. All in all, she is passionate about film, especially lesbian-made and themed films.