Ondes de Choc – Journal de ma tête (Shock Waves – Diary of My Mind)
What kind of intimacy exists between a student and their teacher? It’s a deceptive, selective intimacy; one wherein the two parties have a familiarity with each other, have a sense of each other as a person, and yet actual details are sparse. In truth, the two might not know the first thing about each other. This is astutely demonstrated in a key moment in director Ursula Meier’s captivating Ondes de choc – Journal de ma tête. On day release from prison, Benjamin (an excellent Kacey Mottet Klein) ends up staying with his former teacher Esther (Fanny Ardant). He has enconsed himself firmly in her life, largely against her control. Looking around at the home of the teacher whom he thought of as a confidant, he realises that the closeness he envisaged might not actually exist.
Benjamin is in prison for murdering his parents (or double parricide as the film clinically refers to the matter). His face is first seen shortly after the act, when he turns himself in, deranged and detached. Esther (a measured performance from Fanny Ardant, who quite possibly has the most soothing voice on the planet) is notified by the police that her student apparently sent her a package immediately before the murder. She opens it in the company of the investigating judge (Jean-Philippe Écoffey) and finds that Benjamin has written an exhaustive diary concerned with his decision to commit the double murder.
The writing of a diary was little more than a classroom task, a form of expression, and yet it became critical to Thomas that his teacher read his work. She doesn’t understand why, and it could be argued that attempting to understand is an exercise in futility. Her methodology becomes a part of the police investigation. In unknowingly inspiring Benjamin, is she also culpable?
There’s a lot going on here considering that the film clocks in at a brisk 70 minutes. Meier’s movie is not so concerned with the judicial process, although there’s a peculiar sequence where Thomas has to return to the scene of the crime and reenact events, with the investigating judge using his confession as a script like an infuriated director. Considering the brutality that the narrative revolves around, it’s surprising that Ondes de choc – Journal de ma tête has such tranquility.
Ondes de Choc – Journal de ma tête (Shock Waves – Diary of My Mind) does not have a UK release date yet.
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