‘Scarlet’ (L’Envol) Never Becomes the Fairytale It Seeks to Be

Italian director Pietro Marcello’s French-set movie Scarlet (L’Envol) is bold. Tailored from Russian author Alexandre Grine’s 1923 novel Scalet Sails, the movie facilities on a younger lady, Juliette (newcomer Juliette Jouan), by means of her childhood and into her early grownup years. Juliette is raised in the French countryside of Normandy by her father, Raphaël (Raphaël Thiéry), and a caring widow Adeline (Noémie Lvovsky), who homes the father/daughter dup on her farm. Adeline steps into the function of a surrogate mom following the demise of Raphaël’s spouse. 

The movie opens as war-weary Raphaël returns from the battlefields of World Warfare I, limping and haggard, solely to be taught that his spouse has died, forsaking a helpless toddler that he should be taught to love. Furthermore, the residents of his new village don’t precisely welcome Raphaël with open arms. There’s open hostility towards him due to his woodworking expertise, and he quickly learns one thing else is amiss regarding an incident that concerned his late spouse.  

Juliette Jouan as Juliette in ‘Scarlet’ | Courtsey of Cannes Movie Competition

Marcello’s cinematography is masterful

Nonetheless, Raphaël, Adeline, and Juliette make a life for themselves. As Scarlet presses ahead in time, Juliette transforms into a shocking younger lady whose inventive aspirations and goals stretch outdoors of the confines of the tattered farm the place she lives. Whereas Raphaël finds work as a carpenter in the metropolis crafting lovely toys, devices, and figures, Juliette quickly begins dreaming of a world and life that extends nicely past what she sees in entrance of her. 

There’s a lot that works nicely in Scarlet. Marcello’s cinematography is masterful, as he switches forwards and backwards between 16mm movie and digital utilizing each archival and authentic footage. He really captures the early twentieth century by means of his lens. The ache and grit that lingered following the Nice World Warfare seem to cling to the digicam in some pictures. In others, the faces of the actors are so crisp and nicely lit that it’s as if the viewers would possibly attain out to stroke their pores and skin. 

Furthermore, the performances, notably Lvovsky and the quiet however expressive Thiéry, are impeccable as they slide from lighter to extra dramatically heightened moments. But, past that, a lot of Scarlet begins to stumble. Although the movie is already grounded in a historic setting, Marcello takes it a step additional by introducing parts of fantasy and even a few musical numbers that totally jilt the viewers outdoors the narrative. 

‘Scarlet’ turns into an off-kilter fairytale

Whereas Jouan has a captivating singing voice, when she bursts into music, it’s abruptly as if the viewer is watching a wholly totally different movie than the one which had been enjoying beforehand. Including to the off-kilter fairytale-like tone is the introduction of a fortune-telling swamp lady (Yolande Moreau), who seemingly seems from a youngsters’s ebook, and later Jean (Louis Garrel), a good-looking pilot who actually falls out of the sky when his aircraft crash lands and he instantly captures Juliette’s consideration. 

Whereas it’s clear that Juliette is trying outward, searching for a life bigger than the one she is aware of, with the inconsistent tone and the random characters virtually showing out of skinny air, Scarlet’s plot largely descends right into a melodrama of confusion.

Juliette Jouan as Juliette in and Louis Garret as Jean laying on a bed of grass 'Scarlet'
Juliette Jouan as Juliette in and Louis Garret as Jean ‘Scarlet’ | Courtesy of Cannes Movie Competition

Juliette turns into decentered from her personal narrative

Marcello leans proper into it the “knight and shining armor trope” that has long-plagued female-led movies. There may be even a scene that depicts Juliette’s near-sexual assault when the movie would have been way more profound had it gone in another course. 

Scarlet ought to have been a coming-of-age story a couple of French woman discovering her approach by means of sexism, impoverishment, and adversity in the years between the First and Second World Wars. Nonetheless, since a lot of the movie facilities on Raphaël’s grief surrounding his late spouse and his rage, Juliette turns into decentered from her personal narrative. The movie’s opening epigraph is a quote from Grine’s novel that reads, “You can do so-called miracles with your own hands.” However Juliette by no means does. As an alternative, Scarlet turns into much less about who she is and as an alternative about who will lastly rescue her. 

Scarlet (L’Envol) was screened at the Cannes Movie Competition on Could 18, 2022, as part of Unifrance’s Inaugural Critics Lab. 

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