“Magdala”, “As Bestas”, “La Petite Bande”… Films to see at the cinema this week

“Magdala”, “As Bestas”, “La Petite Bande”… Films to see at the cinema this week


The programming of cinemas goes to summer time, new releases are rarer but still reserve some great discoveries. This week, a spare daydream about the last days of Mary Magdalene (Magdalaby Damien Manivel), a conflict waged under high tension in the Spanish countryside (As Bestasby Rodrigo Soroyen), a family adventure film worthy of the “Green Library” (The Little Bandby Pierre Salvadori).

“Magdala”: a return to the frugal sources of faith

At first she is only a silhouette groping her way through a dark forest. Indistinct, she hides under shapeless blankets, sitting between the ferns. Suddenly, her face turns towards the camera: she is an isolated, silent woman. Who is she ? A refugee, a homeless person, an insane escaped from who knows what asylum? Putative identities are superimposed on this haggard face whose name we already know: Magdala, or the Mary Magdalene of the Scriptures, the famous servant of Christ. The one we see walking painfully, breathing, sustaining herself is seized in her last days. Those which, according to The Golden Legendshe went into exile, driven from her land and retired to the woods.

Magdala adds an unexpected page to the now well-stocked work of Damien Manivel, a former dancer who has been handling the camera for fifteen years. Of the five feature films shot since 2014, all can see themselves as “miniatures” : never exceeding the regulation ninety minutes, filmed with very little means, generally centered around a character and taking a vow of silence. Working on the meeting of the body and the frame, each brings to light a singular gesture.

For the first time, Magdala inscribes this research in the field of spirituality, in this case Christian, but the gesture is anything but liturgical. Marie-Madeleine is interpreted here by the dancer and choreographer Elsa Wolliaston, already present in previous films by Manivel. Shaking up traditional imagery, he works with it a form of marmoreal slowness, a radical solitude. Magdala goes to bed and gets up, falls asleep on a carpet of moss, wakes up under the undulation of a forest. The film could be described as an experience of incarnation, but it is even more certainly the term “reverie”, put forward, which suits it best. Mathieu Macheret

French film by Damien Manivel. With Elsa Wolliaston, Aimie Lombard, Olga Mouak (1h18).

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