Éperdument (Down by Love)
Down by Love is a film about an impossible love between a prison director and a female inmate, based on a true story. Starring Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Colour), there has been much expectation surrounding the French drama, but the movie is unable to deliver a satisfying experience.
Directed by Pierre Godeau, the film is based on events that occurred in a detention centre in Versailles in 2011. The plot line takes inspiration from a book authored by Florent Gonçalves, which details his personal experiences in these circumstances. However, the two-hour long film fails to translate the complex narratives that accompany these events.
From the very start, the viewer expects to find out more about Anna, the mysterious and sultry inmate, and why she has ended up behind bars. But, alas, the plot does not thicken beyond the rapid and stormy affair between Anna and Jean, the confused prison director. Although Exarchopoulos gives a compelling performance, this could have been bolstered by the addition of further layers to the somewhat bland storyline.
Entertainment is provided by Anna’s fellow inmates. Complicated, funny, domineering and caged: the women, alongside the central character, effectively portray life inside a detention centre and add much-needed depth to the script. It is unfortunate that these characters do not form more of this prison tale and are eclipsed by the ensuing love affair and its predictably grave consequences.
Although the dangerous romance does offer its fair share of drama, passion and tension, the psychological elements of the story are ignored. Was Anna being manipulative? What were the characters’ motivations? Were the couple genuinely in love? Audiences will have to make up their own minds.
Éperdument (Down by Love) is released nationwide on 17th June 2016.
Watch the trailer for Éperdument (Down by Love) here: