Delete History (Effacer l’historique)
There’s a lively sense of structured absurdity in the hilarious Effacer l’historique, co-directed by Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern. A deceptively jolly reflection on how consumerism enslaves, the film manages to be endearing while also featuring a joke borrowed from There’s Something About Mary related to a certain bodily fluid.
Marie (Blanche Gardin) lives a beaten-down sort of existence in an anonymous suburb, surrounded by rolling green hills (if she would ever look up from her phone). Her most pressing issue is to find €10,000 to pay a blackmailer threatening to release a drunken sex tape she can’t remember making. Her neighbour Bertrand (Denis Podalydès) is drowning in debt and increasingly obsessed with a persistent telephone saleswoman. Then there’s Christine (Corinne Masiero) who is despondent over the one-star reviews she continually gets as a driver for an Uber-style company.
The film blows from set piece to set piece, with the elements loosely coming together to form an overall narrative, although nothing feels contrived or preachy. But it does have a message – one that is delivered with cheekiness, almost like a gleeful provocation. It’s an exercise in futility to dissect comedy to such a degree, and the most important thing is that it’s funny. Effacer l’historique certainly delivers in this department. The triviality of contemporary society, the need to consume, to own – this type of real-life existence can verge on being farcical, and so all Delépine and Kervern have done is give it a gentle nudge.
There’s much to identify with as the protagonists continue in their vicious circle, slowly being driven mad by yet another thing to buy, checkbox to click, or series to watch. They’re fully aware that they’re trapped, and Marie’s attempts to take back her privacy (to delete history, even) leads to a trip to a US tech giant where she’s crash-tackled to the ground by security. The moment is exuberantly funny, but when the laughter fades away, the thought lingers that though satirical, Effacer l’historique accurately sums up many aspects of modern existence. And that is nothing short of scary.
Delete History (Effacer l’historique) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Delete History (Effacer l’historique) here: