Fidelio: Alice’s Journey
Fidelio: Alice’s Journey is a probing film about love, romance and sex within the unique context of the life of a merchant mariner. The picture offers a strong female narrative in a world typically laden with testosterone, and crisply challenges social conventions concerning sex while inverting many traditional gender roles still perceptible today.
Alice (Ariane Labed) and her land-bound boyfriend, Felix (Anders Danielsen Lie), are shown in the film’s idyllic opening until Alice is called to duty on board a cargo ship, aptly named Fidelio. She serves as replacement to one of the craft’s recently deceased engineers and discovers his diary in her cabin, at which point she consumes it with almost voyeur-like attention as she finds his experiences and thoughts hauntingly reflect her own. Alice is also confronted with a conflict of desires when Gaël (Melvil Poupaud), an old flame, unexpectedly re-enters her life as the captain of Fidelio.
In her feature film debut, Lucie Borleteau achieves a telling glimpse of life at sea with near documentary-style precision. The script is unencumbered by winded dialogue, instead allowing eyes and body to speak while effectually sound-mixed engine drones fill the audible space. It’s extremely refreshing to see a woman with such a carnal appetite in a non-judgemental capacity, and Labed gives a steadfast performance without pretension. Lie tactfully portrays Felix as a man who finds polyamory problematic in an earnest and non-indulgent manner.
Common among French cinema, Fidelio concludes without a complete resolution and without assigning blame to the characters or their actions. The film does not overanalyse or explore too deeply the nuance between romance and love, which is fitting because, like Alice, the audience is only too aware that each person’s subjective experience manifestly pervades such deliberation.
Fidelio: Alice’s Journey is released nationwide on 2nd October 2015.
Watch the trailer for Fidelio: Alice’s Journey here: