THIS movie (France’s entry for next year’s Academy Awards Best International Feature Film category) may be a bit slow-moving for most people but the story is unlike what any of us have seen before.
The focus is on those ‘invisible’ women who are part of France’s homeless and abandoned community forced to live in shelters that have rigid rules due to the law.
The social workers in a day shelter are made up of the optimistic Audrey (Audrey Lamy), her tough but kind-hearted boss Manu (Corianne Masiero), the sweet but with marital problems Helene (Noemie Lvovsky), and the trash-talking Angelique (Deborah Lukumuena).
The shelter offers homeless women a warm shower, a hot meal, some career guidance as well as a chance to talk about their issues.
However, they are packed off in the evenings and forced to travel a great distance across the city to sleep in another shelter.
When the social workers realise that the women they are helping don’t seem to be moving forward or standing on their own two feet as quickly as they should, they bend the rules by turning the day shelter into a proper shelter.
They use this chance to get the women to open up about themselves and find ways to make them employable.
However, despite their best intentions, things don’t go as easily as planned, and as one of them finds out in the end, not everyone wants to be helped.
Director Petit mixes a veteran cast with several non-professional actresses and the results are wonderful.
The biggest standout is Chantal, an elderly ex-con who went to jail for murdering her abusive husband.
She is adamant that potential employers know the truth about her and ends up being the one of the comic reliefs in the movie.
While this is meant to be a feel-good film, the director does not shy away from showing us some of darker sides of France.
That being said, this film sheds a light on a group of people who are invisible to society and reminds us that these people deserve a chance to become part of society.
Les Invisibles will be screened as part of the European Union Film Festival 2019 at selected cinemas in the Klang Valley and Penang.