The Girl With A Bracelet is a unique take on the court drama. The focus isn’t on the crime itself per se, but on the lives of the accused family over the four days the trial takes place. This in-depth look asks the audience to act as jury and decide whether Lise Bastille, our defendant, really murdered her best friend.
From the opening scene, Director Stéphane Demoustier’s vision is very clear. A wide shot of characters on a beach, the sounds of the wind blowing, seagulls screeching, and waves crashing fill the space. Three people join the fray – two are uniformed police officers. They approach the family and exchange words, and the daughter walks off with them. Here, the camera closes in on the back of her head and the violin strings kick in.
This simple scene gives a clear view of the ‘before’ for the Bastille family and the moment their lives changed forever, the focus on the person responsible. It takes skill for this depth of information to be conveyed in such a minimal way.
The film continues mostly in close up shots, keeping you as the audience firmly on the shoulders of the Bastille family. This technique adds to the feeling of you as the jury, forming judgements of guilt or innocence. The angle only changes at the end of the film, marking the end of the audience’s glimpse into the Bastille family’s lives.
As the trial progresses, you find out more about the crimes, the characters, and how they all weave together. The mystery seems to build in tension as each day passes, ultimately ending with the final verdict – guilty or not guilty?
This question is made increasingly difficult to answer by the characters themselves. Melissa Guers, who plays the accused Lise Bastille, plays the character as if there is always something more to know. Lise’s reactions are subtle, especially in her facial features and actions, like the clenching of her jaw. This means that whenever a ‘real’ emotive reaction is observed, it feels all the more powerful.
The family dynamics are interestingly contrasted to that opening scene. The patriarch and matriarch of the family, Bruno (played by Roschdy Zem) and Celine (played by Chiara Mastroianni) are just as important to anchoring the court scenes as Lise. In them, you see the struggles that arise in such an unprecedented situation and the different ways that people cope with the upending of safety found in a family unit. As you watch, you are hoping for the survival of the family just as much as you are debating the guilt of their daughter.
Perhaps the only flaw that could be found with this story is the lack of resolution regarding the central crime. While it is possible to appreciate the necessity of this, as the screenwriters chose to focus on a different type of story, it does leave you with a lot of questions. It is easy to grow your list of suspects and questions you wish to ask, ultimately without any way to answer them.
The Girl With A Bracelet is a wonderful crime drama that focuses on family matters over the actual murder. It is emotive and has you questioning everything the entire way through.
The Girl With A Bracelet is available now, exclusively on Curzon Home Cinema.