Joanne has just arrived in Orléans to work in a strip club. She meets Sylvia, a hostess, and they become roommates, confiding their dreams of a better life. An annual festival is underway to celebrate the city’s most famous daughter, Joan of Arc. From religious ceremonies to costumed parades to techno parties, the scenes blend in an almost surreal way. Virgil Vernier could simply have filmed the event in all its spectacular anachronism. But instead, the filmmaker—equally adept at documentary (Commissariat, Pandore) and fiction (Chroniques de 2005)— chooses to discover the city through the eyes of his two female protagonists. He captures the essence of places and the power of faces (drawn, immobilized, filmed) and plays with the significance of symbols. The result is a very structured work that draws parallels between the codes and rituals of exotic dance and commemoration, between Joan of Arc’s voices and Joanne’s dreams. But this structure doesn’t make the film any less powerful, thanks to the fresh energy of the two actresses and the way that Vernier seizes the fragile grace of brief moments in time.
Preceded by PANDORE | Virgil Vernier