Wednesday, 15 February 2012
'Sister' Berlinale (Competition) review:
Set in the Swiss alps, 'E'enfant D'en Haut' - which carries the English title 'Sister' - is about a young boy called Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) who escapes his grim life in a tower block by spending his days in the affluent mountain ski resort above, where he steals expensive ski equipment to sell on to local kids. Director Ursula Meier's film has a strong undercurrent of grim socio-economic reality behind it, however it's also lyrical and occasionally whimsical - as Simon strikes the pose of a flush, big-time hustler to great comic effect.
Going by the name Julian in the world above, he wears sunglasses whilst dining on fries in the restaurant, mingling casually with upper class patrons - who include serial stilted Brit impersonator Gillian Anderson. In the world below he uses money earnt from selling on stolen goods in order to support his frequently absent older sister - as played with great sensitivity by the coma-inducingly beautiful Lea Séydoux.
Beautifully filmed by Claire Denis' regular DP Agnès Godard, 'Sister' is tragic in its depiction of a situation in which a desperate child is ultimately forced to barter with his only relative for even the slightest expression of affection. Simon is a likeable kid whose one means of escape is not only criminal but destined to be short-lived: the ski season does not last forever and nor can his mischievous hijinks.