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CANNES 2022 Un Certain Regard

Review: Rodéo


- CANNES 2022: Lola Quivoron makes a powerful debut with an original first feature film packed full of ultra-rugged, female-style, wild energy, and set on the fringes of the motocross world

Review: Rodéo
Julie Ledru in Rodéo

"When you up the revs, it’s like a rocket – I was born with a bike between my legs". If you open the door to motocross fans, all the others will follow, carried along by the passion coursing through Julia, the irresistible protagonist of Rodéo [+see also:
interview: Lola Quivoron and Julie Ledru
film profile
, which is the first fiction feature by French director Lola Quivoron who got motors running within the Un Certain Regard section, where the film was unveiled as part of the 75th Cannes Film Festival.

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"I’m going to hit you". Julia (acting revelation Julie Ledru) is a young woman who isn’t easily intimidated on her densely populated estate on the outskirts of Bordeaux, where guys hang around outside of tower blocks casually calling girls whores, and where her family are ready to wipe their hands of her. But Julia couldn’t care less, because there’s only one obsession in her life: motorbikes. In fact, she steals them - offering a smile ("I can’t buy unless I try") before stamping her foot down on the accelerator - from individuals selling their bikes in classified ads. But her real dream is to join the group of bikers who practice motocross illegally (acrobatics, wheelies, etc.) on deserted stretches of road or in isolated parking lots, until the police come along and stick their noses in. Julia’s not especially welcome among them ("you’re dangerous, either get on and ride or go home with the other girls"), but she nonetheless manages to wheedle her way into the B-More group following a tragedy, but also thanks to Kaïs (Yannis Lafki). From the wings, whose epicentre is a secret garage which recycles bike parts, and which is overseen, long-distance, by Domino, from prison - who even drags his wife (Antonia Buresi) and young son into the business - and from one mission to the next, Julia certainly earns her place, but she also earns herself enemies in a world full of danger and adrenaline…

"Accelerate, brake". It’s in successive bursts of speed and within a closed-off and nigh-on documentarian atmosphere (the smell of petrol practically oozes through the screen) that Lola Quivoron drives forward her relatively minimalist tale about a visually captivating, illegal "sport". An incisive portrait of a veritable Amazonian from a deprived neighbourhood, the film deftly intertwines a thriller unfolding on the fringes of a delinquent world, an intaglio picture about the power of money and the paradoxical beauty of different areas and abandoned beings (trapped in their social class), and the values of a particular brand of feminism which is pulverising the frontiers of male chauvinism. All of this expertly packaged (often via nocturnal shots) by director of photography Raphaël Vandenbussche. Driven by Julia, in the vein of Igor from the Dardenne brothers’ The Promise, Lola Quivoron delivers a top-speed first qualifying lap with a customised film-vehicle whose progress will definitely prove interesting to watch.

Rodéo is produced by CG Cinéma and sold worldwide by Les Films du Losange.

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(Translated from French)

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