Coma – review of the latest Bertrand Bonello that premiered in Encounters

Coma – review of the latest Bertrand Bonello that premiered in Encounters

Bertrand Bonello’s daughter has just turned 18. But the moment this young adult officially begins to “spread her wings” coincides with a global health crisis. Locked indoors, she experiences life in a state of limbo. In between reveries and video chats with her friends, she follows an influencer named Patricia Coma. A device she buys from her, called a “revelator”, leads her to question how much free will she actually has.

Bonello does a special experimental film, not like his normal ones, a quarantine film. His film-daughter stays in her room for most of the film, and when she steps out cameras are watching her, a feeling that we probably all got during the lockdowns. Inside, she follows this crazy youtuber, imagines dialogs with her Barbie dolls, building a whole sitcom with them with even laugh tracks being heard. At night Bonello portraits the teenage dreams during the pandemic, full with fear – represented by a dark forest, but also full of potential, as at our dreams we were all free from this nightmare of the life in limbo.

As an experimental film about quarantine, that was particularly brutal for the teenagers, Coma is an interesting approach. But it never leaves this role of documentation and its place to the director’s filmography as his gift to her daughter. In that sense the film’s position on the experimental section of the Berlin Encounters is well fitted, but I really wonder if similar quarantine films on isolation from other lesser known directors would have this chance. Aesthetically tough, Coma is really well designed with the dream sequences, the Coma show, the dolls show and some animation in between conclude to a stunning visual result.

Bonello on the premiered of the film dedicated it to the recently deceased Gaspard Ulliel, that plays the voice one of the dolls.

Grade 2/5

by Bertrand Bonello
with Julia Faure, Louise Labeque, Laëtitia Casta, Gaspard Ulliel, Vincent Lacoste
France 2022
French, Subtitles: English

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