“Slalom” (2020) is Charlène Favier’s first film, nominated 8 times in various festivals, it won the Ornano-Valenti prize at the Deauville Film Festival, which rewards the first film of a French director and the Best Film award at the Tallin Black Nights Film Festival. It was also in the Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival 2020.
With “Slalom”, Charlène Favier plunges us into the life of Lyz (Noée Abita), a 15 year old girl who has just joined a school in which she skis in parallel to her studies. She will train intensively and participate in many races during these years. She will have to prove herself in an environment where competition and jealousy reign, but she will also have to endure the pressure of her coach Fred (Jérémie Renier) if she wants to succeed in reaching her ultimate goal, the Olympic Games. But Fred’s behavior and control over Liz grows unhealthy and will go as far as the unthinkable.
With this film, Charlène Favier addresses a part of her personal history, the sexual abuses in the world of sports. Lyz finds herself alone in a mountain resort, with an absent father and a mother far away geographically. Left to her own devices in a new and hostile environment, she will find as only comfort the confidence that her coach grants her, following her brilliant performances. As Noée Abita said in an interview, “For me, Lyz is a girl who is in need of love. She just needs to be looked at and told that she is good”. Fred appears as a confident adult who takes advantage of Lyz’s feverishness.
Taking place entirely in a mountainous landscape, the film makes us enjoy a photography as beautiful as impressive. We face sumptuous panoramas, the shots at dawn are impressive of calm and silence. This contrasts greatly with the drama that occurs within these mountains. We watch helplessly the evolution of an adult’s behavior towards a young girl, using the pretext of sports excitement to justify his actions. But Fred makes us think more of an animal unable to resist to his darkest impulses.
The duo of actors Noée Abita and Fred Renier works perfectly. The accuracy of their interpretation coupled with the realism of the characters drawn by Charlène Favier and Marie Talon perfectly depicts the complexity of these relationships, and shows us how the hold exercised by an adult on a child can be devious and malicious.
By not falling into sentimentality and by drawing up portraits of complex characters, this film succeeds with accuracy in denouncing the various sexual abuses in the world of sports.
For her first feature film, Charlène Favier delivers a film of quality as much on the level of the scenario, the photography or the performance of the actors. On her side Noée Abita confirms her potential and lets us foresee the best for the future.