A subtitle could be “In Repair.”
Repair the body
Repair the mind
Repair the soul
And get a second chance at ex-isting.
Josiane (Muriel Robin) might be the central character after all. A character damaged by life emotionally and physically transforms her home into a space for artists (musicians, dancers, singers) to rehearse and workshop. A generous laboratory where friendships and romances are formed and/or thrive, where bodies find their way back into shape and harmony, individually and collectively. Josiane mentors Elise (Marion Barbeau) back into hope, tutoring her into a different relationship to herself and her father.
Like fixing a meal—cooking also occupies center stage as another expressive form of creativity—fixing bodies and fixing bonds require the proper ingredients, spices, talent and patience. A balancing act of “authority and freedom” as Jed Perl recently argued it in his eponymous work.
Literature also appears—if indirectly, through books that are either read and quoted, or given but remain unread—as part of this constellation of artistic practices.
A celebratory feast for our heart and senses.
En Corps is truly a gift for our post-pandemic humanity. Thank you, Mr Klapisch.
The movie invited me into a very personal dance.
The film takes place mostly indoors except for a few ‘outings’ or ‘breaking out’ scenes as Sidney Lumet would say—the iconic urban beauty of Paris and the natural sublime of some coastal wilderness. After a number of sequences shot in Josiane’s large mansion, the action moves outdoors by the ocean. I have a shock. I cannot believe it…My eyes lock on the familiar-looking bench by the edge of the cliff and the beloved rugged coastline… This can’t be… I stop focusing on the action of the movie to collect other clues. The camera focuses on the characters and the bodies occupy most of the screen, but I recognize the patch of land! Yet my reason keeps resisting such serendipity until there is no doubt: I catch a sight of the ruins. Now the characters are on the well-trodden path I walked so many times over so many years, trying, like Elise, to fix a bad ankle while trailblazing new ways for my existence. Taken by surprise, I surrender to the deep sense of joy I feel rising in my heart, and the cinematic magic prevents this elation from turning into nostalgia. Like the actors on screen, I find the proper spot to contemplate and wonder, poised between gratefulness and admiration.
Later in the film, Elise mentions the place “between Plouharnel and Quiberon”. Indeed. A sort of in-between place for dreams bathed in the sunset miracle of perfect light and air.
I experience the Proustian subject’s sense of wholeness and fulfillment. A true and pure moment of joy.
As I leave the movie theatre in a state of happiness I have not felt in a long time, Josiane’s final words to Elise still resonate with me—a legacy that only loving and compassionate resilience can inspire: “If you dance again, you will help all of us find our little entry into beauty.”