Drama films

Review of La Mif – remarkable retirement home drama for teenagers | Drama movies

FSwiss social worker and self-taught filmmaker Fred Baillif developed The Mif (the title is slang for “the fam” or the family) over a two-year period with at-risk adolescents who are residents and educators of a Geneva children’s home. The film’s non-professional actors play characters that, while not specifically based on themselves, are rooted in their shared stories and experiences. The result is remarkable: propelled by jitters, unpredictable energy and adolescent emotional outbursts, it’s a cleverly structured portrait of a de facto family unit and the tensions that tear it apart.

With projects born from the crossbreeding between reality and fiction – among other examples, the Palme d’Or by Laurent Cantet The class and the dynamic, vital Sarah Gavron Rocks – there is always the risk that the creative methodology turns out to be more interesting than the finished film; that good intentions are poured by declamatory acts and tick boxes. Fortunately, The Mif resists impressively, carried by performances that are at least solid and at best truly exceptional. Stars include Claudia Grob as veteran care manager Lora, returning to work after personal trauma, and Kassia Da Costa as Novinha, neglected by her mother and consumed by an emotion she can’t quite name. – maybe rage, maybe a sadness that makes the soul sick.

The mini-chapters take turns focusing on the characters, each offering a new perspective on the unfolding drama; the choral and chamber music is an unexpected but effective punctuation in the storytelling, but most powerful is the sound design which includes the gravity of moments of weighted silence.