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Is Gemma Arterton a happy woman; Walid Mattar follows the Northern Wind

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Gemma Arterton plays Tara in The Escape (Une Femme Heureuse), 2018.
Gemma Arterton plays Tara in The Escape (Une Femme Heureuse), 2018. © Improvised Films Limited
By: Rosslyn Hyams

In this month's Cinefile, RFI's Rosslyn Hyams meets British actress and producer Gemma Arterton for her new film The Escape, directed by Dominic Savage, and Walid Mattar for his Franco-Tunisian film Vent du Nord (Northern Wind).



The Escape (Une Femme Heureuse) reads like a short story with train-ride views instead of an illustrated page inserted before each chapter. Editing speeds up the family routine and disrupts the monotony. What is happiness and how do you find it?

"It's an honest film. It's not necessarily an easy one to watch. It's quite a taboo subject, talking about a woman who leaves her children..."

Tara, played by Gemma Arterton, is married (her husband is played by Dominic Cooper). However, she is pulling away from him even though he beleives he has everthingl he needs to be happy - wife, kids, house, car, and job.

Tara flails around from the beginning of the film until she reaches for the cross-Channel train and a pokey hotel room in Paris. Inevitably, she embarks on a romantic interlude in Paris with Jalil Lespert whose footloose character has his own baggage.

The film is realistic, but the paring down of the elements packs an emotional  punch and drama. "I think even the happiest of couples may go through difficult times," Arterton says.

The audience is left with even more questions than they did at the outset, the most sallient of which is Tara 'Une Femme Heureuse', a happy woman?


Walid Mattar's Vent du Nord, Northern Wind blows industry from the north.

Mattar's film is constantly moving and offers brief pauses for thought with aerial views of a container ship sailing from the top of the screen to the bottom and vice versa.

Throughout the film, Mattar asks about what the people who live in these physically different places have in common.

It stars Corinne Masiero as a swimming pool cleaner flogging her husband's fishing catch to colleagues, and Philippe Rebbot as her husband trying to rebound after miserable lay-off pay-off.

Kacey Mottet-Klein is their school-leaver son who chooses what ironically appeals as a 'secure' job away from his economically depressed home area. Nineteen-year-old Mottet-Klein has already shown his versatility after playing the 18th century Spanish, Prince Louis role in last year's The Exchange of the Princesses where Lambert Wilson played his father, the mad King Philippe.

Mattar's social-realism film bears traces of Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake, but is  not as dark.

Mattar captures and contrasts the northern sea and sky colours of the region on the English Channel around Calais, with the sunnier southern side of the Mediterranean.

"The optimism in the film lies [in the fact] that any 'normal' human being wants to keep going. The question I'm asking is whether in the current system are human beings important," he says.

There are two cultures and  two stages of economic development. Mattar manages to find commonalities between the two in his search for humanity.

The grass is always greener even when there are pebbles and sand.


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