Writer/director Rachel Lang’s Baden Baden is a beautiful film in which every aspect — from screenplay and cinematography to acting and editing — work together to aesthetically create a period of overall uncertainty in a spirited young woman’s life.
Ana (Salomé Richard) returns to Strasbourg after a stint abroad working on a movie set ends rather disagreeably. She comes home to an ailing grandmother whose physical limitations now render her bathtub impractical and possibly harmful. While her grandmother recovers from an accident in the hospital, Ana decides to remodel the bathroom. Although she’s a bit in over her head with the DIY project, it appears that she makes better progress in rebuilding the shower than she does rebuilding her life.
Among the most notable elements is the cinematography by Fiona Braillon, which furnishes the visuals with beautiful composition and stark contrasts of vivid colour. The pacing of the movie works nicely to create a misplaced sense of stability while music curated by Wim Coryn evokes the calculated tones of a carefree life.
Salomé Richard is perfect as Ana in her feature film debut, and she plays off the entire cast of supporting actors well, especially Claude Gensac as the feisty grandmother and Swann Arlaud as Simon, a friend with whom Ana has ambiguous relations. Lazare Gousseau probably pulls the most laughs with his apt portrayal of social clumsiness.
A hallmark of French foreign language films generally, Baden Baden witnesses ordinary life and transcends any need for a greater meaning or comprehensive message but hones in on a celebration of personal freedom. It quite simply chronicles the fragments of a young woman’s life marked by humour, tragedy, verve and recklessness, however, it is the way Lang is able to capture varying moments of intimacy or heartbreak through concise yet expressive shots that makes Baden Baden a delicate feat in storytelling. While the movie is not necessarily imperative to see, it is certainly enjoyable in all respects.
Baden Baden is released nationwide on 23rd September 2016.