Belgian director Amélie Van Elmbt’s first feature, La tête la première (Headfirst in english), presents the romantic cross-country flight of two young people, punctuated by the motorists who pick them up. Adrien and Zoé are two hitchhikers brought together by chance—or perhaps something more. Adrien, who makes no secret of being three years into a relationship, is nonetheless fascinated by Zoé’s unpredictability and imagination. She, in turn, en route to meet a mystery man, decides to have some fun with the situation. With Alice de Lencquesaing and David Murgia as the two leads, La tête la première , set in the lush green pastures of rural France, puts a new spin on the light-hearted banter that camouflages deeper feelings. And though the cinematography resembles nothing so much as a series of sentimental landscape paintings, van elmbt’s crisp dialogue and way of framing her actors within their surroundings sidestep the usual clichés. Zoé, following her heart’s desire—risky and uncertain though this may be—can at last affirm her love and take her first steps on her journey to self-discovery. Just like Van Elmbt, for whom La tête la première is also a loving tribute to the great Jacques Doillon, the soul of the movie in more ways than one.
With the support of Acid