La ligne – Berlinale review

La ligne – Berlinale review

Margaret, 35, has a history of violent behaviour which has cost her a romantic relationship. She has moved back in with her mother Christina, a fragile, immature 55-year-old woman who blames Margaret, her firstborn, for ruining her dreams of a career as a concert pianist. In a state of unbridled fury during an argument, Margaret hits Christina. The law steps in, further complicating family dynamics. As she awaits trial, Margaret is forbidden from coming into contact with her mother or within 100 metres of their home. This only intensifies her desire to be closer to her family. Every day, Margaret appears at this 100-metre threshold to see her 12-year-old sister Marion and give her music lessons.

The new film by Ursula Meier is a family drama that is driven by Stéphanie Blanchoud, the actress that plays Margaret. She is the breakpoint of a film, that is not really otherwise important, but remains likable. Meier shows the story from the eyes of Margaret and her little sister, emphasizing on the lessons on the blue line that the little one draws after her mother requests so. The mother and her feelings are only occasionally explored: her new flirt moves into the house off-screen as does her previous romantic interest. We learn as much we need about her, so we understand the basics of the rage that her daughter has against her. But as we are missing information on the mother, so we do for the rage that drives occasionally Margaret. The first scene of the film shows us this violence that results in the serious injury of the mother, but the event seems more like an artificial plot point to put the characters in the later situation when Meier wants to explore them. 

After all the title of the film represents exactly the topographic story that the director wants to explore. The distance that separates the likes of Margaret and Christina is more than those 100 meters that the court mandated. Christina loves her children from one hand, but seems to love more her own self, in a cynic and out of norm way. Margaret on the other hand is just enraged by that behaviour of her mum and cannot control herself. Ultimately the film builds the line in telling the story of the real relation of the two, which seems more interesting than how Marion, the little sister handles the family war.

Grade: 2/5

by Ursula Meier
with Stéphanie Blanchoud, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Elli Spagnolo, Dali Benssalah, India Hair
Country: Switzerland / France / Belgium Year: 2022
Runtime: 101’

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