Image: copyright Roger Arpajou

L’enfant d’en haut

“Meier’s portrait of a boy thrust from infancy to adulthood is a remarkably fresh and invigorating adolescent drama.”— Patrick Gamble, CineVue

Director: Ursula Meier
Year: 2012
Running time: 97 mins
Censor Rating: M - violence, offensive language

Producers: Denis Freyd, Ruth Waldburger
Screenplay: Ursula Meier, Antoine Jaccoud, Gilles Taurand
Photography: Agnès Godard
Editor: Nelly Quettier
Production designer: Ivan Niclass
Costume designer: Anna Van Brée
Music: John Parish
In French and English, with English subtitles

With: Léa Seydoux (Louise), Kacey Mottet Klein (Simon), Martin Compston (Mike), Gillian Anderson (English woman), Jean-François Stévenin (head chef), Yann Trégouët (Bruno), Gabin Lefebvre (Marcus), Dilon Ademi (Dilon)

Festivals: Berlin 2012

Special Award, Berlin Film Festival 2012

A terrific social-realist drama, Ursula Meier’s Sister makes us anxious accessories of 12-year-old Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein), a quick-witted young thief working a Swiss ski resort. Apparently abandoned by his parents and fending for himself and his feckless older sister Louise (Léa Seydoux), he lives in a scruffy service town below the slopes. Everyday, adopting the guise of a young ski bum, he takes the lift up to the resort where he coolly filches equipment the tourists leave lying about. He’s not short of customers, young and old, for the stolen goods. At home Louise offers zero security, needy one day, great fun another, callous or absent the next. The plot thickens as we hitch a ride with one of her fancy boyfriends and learn what it is that triggers such unnerving swings in her behaviour. — BG

“It’s a playful but quietly aching everyday survival drama, beautifully played by the two leads. Seydoux, visibly delighted to be given a slightly grubby, threadbare character after a run of porcelain perfection (see Farewell, My Queen), hits an early-career peak, while Klein is a genuine find: quick, intuitive, unafraid to play up to either the character’s stroppiness or intelligence. There are sharp supporting turns, too, from Gillian Anderson and Martin Compston as initially sympathetic foreigners Simon encounters at the resort.
Rather like the performances, there’s more finesse in Meier’s freestyle than initially meets the eye: it helps, of course, to hire Claire Denis’ favorite DP, the masterfully offhand Agnès Godard, to play her deft tricks of light on this sun-bleached stretch of the Alps.”— Guy Lodge, In Contention

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