FRANCE 2 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22 AT 9:10 P.M. – TELEFILM
Before seeing like queens, we must remove the public service bib from Marion Vernoux’s film. It is of course a film about, in this case the prostitution of minors, and its initiators were guided by the desire to inform, to denounce. If the director and her performers accomplish these missions, they manage to do so by sparing didacticism, psychology, excess of empathy. like queens depicts with chilling dryness and precision an atrocious and banal moment in the life of a very young girl.
Samia (Sarah Isabella) lives with her mother (Karole Rocher) and her eldest, a good student. At 15, Sarah doesn’t like school. Pretty (she is reminiscent of a Mediterranean version of Reese Witherspoon), she easily finds the way to parties attended by her elders, who pay no heed to her young age. There she meets Louise (Nina Louise) and Jessica (Bintou Ba), who left their family for the “protection” of a young and pretty pimp, Nico (Idir Azougli, who we saw in the feature film Scheherazade, in 2018, which dealt, on a completely different note, with the same subject). He promised Louise that they would soon move into a nice house by the sea.
aura of despair
The three performers, all beginners, each embody in their own way the mixture of omniscience and blindness of a generation that discovered the world through the Internet. They know everything about their condition, their place in the circulation of goods (their bodies), but naively believe in the possibility of escaping the trap set for them before their very eyes. Scenario and staging resolutely turn their backs on the imagery of the girl put on the pavement which irrigates French fiction, from Fantine to Shéhérazade passing by Golden Helmet. It’s a risk, because it must be admitted that the trio inspires more exasperation than compassion.
When the gaze moves away from the daily life of young women and their pimp, made up of flashes of flashy luxury and moments of boredom (but in this case, encased in its TV movie garb, the story runs out of time to deploy), we follow the efforts of Samia’s mother and Louise’s parents (Bernard Campan and Nathalie Richard) to bring their daughters back to the fold. Neither love, nor reason, nor the police succeed, and this impotence surrounds the story with an aura of despair.
In his last sequences, the rhythm gets carried away, not so much to circulate the adrenaline as because it is necessary to close this story. Here again, like queens stands at a distance, both from the comforting conclusion and from the tragic excess.
like queens, TV movie by Marion Vernoux (Fr., 2022, 95 min). With Sarah Isabella, Nina Louise, Bintou Ba, Idir Azougli, Karole Rocher, Bernard Campan, Nathalie Richard. Available in replay on France.tv.