“The Chamber of Wonders” by Lisa Azuelos, the exploits of a wounded mother
The Chamber of Wonders **
by Lisa Azuelos
French film, 1 h 37
It is undoubtedly the most serious of Lisa Azuelos’ films. Apart from her Dalida biopic, the filmmaker has accustomed us to a sparkling, slightly overplayed fantasy. In this new film, she doesn’t abandon that tone, but leverages it with a darker narrative. Thelma is raising 12-year-old Louis on her own. She struggles to provide him with a benevolent education, despite a demanding job. When he is hit by a vehicle and plunges into a coma, his hospital room becomes the epicenter of his life. Like other parents in this care unit, Thelma waits for her child to wake up and for any tiny signs – a tear, a smile, the movement of a finger – that might announce it.
The months passed between the professional life that had to be continued and this daily presence with Louis. One day, Thelma finds a notebook in which her son has written all the wishes to be fulfilled. “before the end of the world which may come sooner than expected“. To deceive this unbearable expectation, she decides to accomplish them for him and tell him the story, a way perhaps to bring him back to the side of life.
An adaptation of Julien Sandrel’s bestseller
Contrary to her habit, Lisa Azuelos does not draw her film from her own life. She adapts Julien Sandrel’s bestseller, which has sold 320,000 copies since its publication in 2018 and has been translated into around thirty languages. Its transposition is also currently being performed at the Théâtre des Variétés. Where on paper and on stage, the “one would have said that” goes without saying, it is less obvious in the cinema, which suddenly gives more reality to the story. However, it is like a fable that you have to see Lisa Azuelos’ film, without worrying about plausibility, facing this modest employee who goes to Scotland, Portugal and Japan to make her son’s dreams come true. .
Serious and joyful, this tale full of humanity and fantasy has everything of an ode to maternal love. It may sometimes seem conventional in its succession of wishes, but the story bounces back with breath and draws the reconstruction of Thelma over the course of her encounters. Always fair, Alexandra Lamy upsets as a mother on the edge of despair, between laughter and tears. The film with its elegant image nicely avoids the pitfall of falling in all white or all black.
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