This tender, affecting film threads together the apparently disparate lives and stories of people in Paris, whose only connection seems to be the RER B train that traverses the French capital from north to south. Presenting these intimate vignettes of ordinary Parisian living is documentary filmmaker Alice Diop.
We (Nous) traverses the urban landscape in much the same way as the train it follows, dropping us off in a new neighbourhood, with a new person facing their own unique troubles. But the RER B doesn’t just connect these individuals; it connects communities, places and people that seem a world apart. We arrive at a flamboyant fox hunt via mechanics toiling to make a living.
In Diop’s picture, the train line acts like a unifying thread, twisting together these individual portraits to form a bigger picture, an ever-developing landscape of the “we”, the fabric of society. The doc also acts as a mirror, its intimate portrayals detailing societal friction and division. Holding up the patchwork for closer examination, we find it to be splitting, struggling to hold itself together. Like any good documentary, the piece presents its audience with a reality – a truth which we have to confront no matter how much it disturbs us. We are shown how a short train journey can transport us dramatically to places one would think were worlds apart.
Though the feature is a little slow and still in parts, the substance beneath the silence tells its own story in these profound portraits. The director wants to show that there is more than just a train line linking us together and that our stories are composite strands of a larger, interwoven narrative: she depicts distinct lives chugging along, in different directions and at different speeds, but each journey connected. We (Nous) is a beautifully filmed, wonderfully immersive piece of cinema.
We (Nous) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch a clip from We (Nous) here: