“On the dark paths”, Jean Dujardin in the footsteps of Sylvain Tesson

March 22, 2023 by No Comments

On the dark paths **

by Denis Imbert

French film, 1 h 34

There was a form of challenge, even unconsciousness, in adapting Sylvain Tesson’s book. In this story the author, who is barely recovering from a fall of several meters that almost cost him his life, recounts his truant crossing of France on foot. That of the famous diagonal of the void, from the Mercantour to the Cotentin, and its side roads.

“There are those who hope to go down in history and those who want to disappear into geography”, he explains emphatically. A solitary epic where he experiences his body and his soul in an inner journey in the form of penance.​​​​​​

A film shot with a reduced team in the chronology of the course

Nothing a priori very cinematographic there. And yet the director Denis Imbert and the actor Jean Dujardin manage to take us on board with them and make us feel physically and morally the ordeal to which his character is subjected. Perhaps because of the economy of the film, shot with a reduced team, in the chronology of the course. Or its construction skillfully combining walking scenes, flashbacks of the accident and intimate thoughts delivered in voiceover.

The stages of the journey are punctuated by his chance encounters, a visit to his aunt (Anny Duperey), where the memory of a recently deceased mother suddenly arises, and the companionship of his best friend Arnaud (Jonathan Zaccaï) then his sister (Izïa Higelin), when the body lets go and puts it in danger.

So many punctuations that allow, like a puzzle, to understand the silences and bereavements that gnaw at the character. Jean Dujardin, who we feel invested in this role, is perfectly credible there, even in the slightly dandy elegance and misanthropy of his model, smoking a cigar and vituperating against progress and the modern world.

However, he manages to move us in difficult times and to share with us his wonder at this still wild nature where he has chosen to lose himself, and perhaps to find himself again. Waking up in the early morning by a ray of sunshine, the sound of the wind in the trees or the sound of stones rolling under one’s feet, the beauty of the landscapes brings the so much sought-after appeasement.


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