Mon Amie Victoria is one of the best films at this year’s St. Louis International Film Festival.
It is based on one of four short novels by Doris Lessing that comprise The Grandmothers published in 2004. ”Victoria and the Staveneys” is set in London, but director Jean-Paul Civeyrac will have you wondering how Paris wasn’t the original setting.
In Lessing’s story, he found an opportunity to ” …create a kind of photograph of what I see around me in Paris and France regarding the situation of foreigners.”
Victoria (Guslagie Malanga) is a young Franco-African girl from a poor, unstable family. Spending one night in the bourgeois comfort of her classmate Edouard’s (Alexis Loret) home forever changes her life.
This feeling resonated strongly with me. While I don’t come from a poor immigrant family like Victoria, when I was a student in Paris, I did not have a stable living situation.
A friend offered me respite from the drama. I spent just one night at his family’s luxurious home in Paris’ wealthy, residential sixteenth arrondissement. The feelings of relief, of safety, of comfort have stayed with me to this day.
Understandably Victoria longs for more than just one night, and that longing influences the rest of her life. Her story is told by her cousin Fanny (Nadia Moussa); her narration assists the movie’s coherence.
It also supports Civeyrac’s desire to stress that even though Victoria is French, she is seen as a foreigner. Her story is told by an observer, a character who, despite sharing the same challenges as Victoria, manages to integrate into French culture more successfully than she.
The casting of this movie is exceptional. The child actors bear uncanny resemblances to their adult counterparts. This attention to detail ensures no interruption of the story as it unfolds.
Mon amie Victoria is the quintessence of what a movie with a political point of view should be, made with nuance and sans allegory.
France, 2014, 95 min., French
Friday, November 13th at 4:50pm Sunday, November 15th at 2:00pm Plaza Frontenac Cinema