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Falcon Lake

Alejandra Lomelí

With over twenty credits to her name as an actress, Charlotte Le Bon has worked behind the camera twice. She made her debut as director with the short film Judith Hotel in 2018, and went on to direct her first feature film Falcon Lake, premiered this year at the Cannes Film Festival.

Loosely based on Bastien Vivès’ graphic novel Une Soeur, the story revolves around Bastien (Joseph Engel), a thirteen-year-old Parisian teenager, and Chloé (Sara Montpetit), a girl four years his senior, who are spending their summer vacations with their respective families in a cabin by a lake in Quebec, Canada. Despite their age difference, Bastien's childhood fears, and Chloé's heartbreaks, the pair begins to develop a special bond. However, Bastien will have to face his fears in order to win a place in Chloé's heart. As a backdrop to their fledgling relationship is a disturbing legend about a ghost that lives in the lake.

Falcon Lake is a remarkable feature film debut for the French-Canadian director, who blends genres in an unexpected fashion: this coming-of-age story is punctuated by elements of horror cinema. Le Bon’s unusual approach to a story that focuses on the transition from childhood to adult life, while also dabbling with the supernatural, creates a deeper reading of the concerns experienced by the protagonists regarding their inevitable transition into adulthood, their love relationships, and even their journey to self-discovery. A wise decision by the director, as it injects the film with a spectral aura, thus creating suspense in its purest form while also providing symbolic meaning.

Le Bon, who managed to capture adolescent fragility and the idealization of first love with great sensitivity, found in the 1:37 format the perfect ally to translate emotions and immerse the audience in the intimacy of the story. Other technical aspects such as the soundtrack, the warm texture of the photography, and the static shots of the nearby forest—that at times takes on a life of its own, as if it was one more leading character—, were also used to create a bucolic atmosphere, as idyllic as it is threatening.

Charlotte Le Bon creates a perfect balance with each element she uses. While it is true that this drama is not the first of its kind, it dazzles with its formal proposal and its unconventional narrative. Falcon Lake is a declaration of intent from an up-and-coming filmmaker.

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