Actor and director Louis Garrel collaborates once again with his wife Laetitia Casta on The Crusade. His 2015 film Two Friends was nominated for the Caméra d’Or. Garrel and Casta play Abel and Marianne, a middle-class married couple living in Paris with their young teenage son Joseph. The film has one of the best opening sequences: for several minutes, without any cuts, the parents race around their apartment discovering all of the precious possessions that Joseph has sold on. As Marianne is screaming for her missing Dior dress, Abel asks, “where are my watches?” – all whilst Joseph brushes off their anger, saying his parents had used them already. It’s a masterclass in real-time filming, expertly choreographed, with the camera perfectly capturing the comedy, chaos and anger of the characters.
Unfortunately, the feature goes downhill from there. It only clocks in at around 67 minutes, the remaining hour chronicling Joseph’s sworn allegiance to a secret society who have proposed an idea to help combat the drought in Africa and provide a solution to the climate crisis. The work’s themes range from generational tension and marriage problems to grander ecological and moral issues. Marianne and Able begin an introspective look at their own lives as they discover that their young son is achieving more good than they ever have. The couple begin to analyse their relationship and livelihoods, while Joseph tries to secure a girlfriend.
The Crusade trivialises some of the most important issues facing the world today and carries their weight without giving them any of the consideration or respect they deserve. Marianne feels disillusioned by what she has achieved with her life and her marriage, so she decides to ride off into the East and save the day. The film seems ignorant of the presence of the stifling white saviour trope, the characters acting as if solving climate change is a hobby to distract them from the dissatisfaction of their privileged middle-class lives. The dialogue and acting is strong, which is to be expected from Garrel and Casta, but the bizarre plotline and the positioning of global crises within a privileged setting makes for an uncomfortable and tone-deaf watch.
This is a disappointing follow up to A Faithful Man for Garrel and Casta, which has a significant amount of self-unawareness and lack of perspective on the current climate of the world.
The Crusade does not have a UK release date yet.
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