Berlinale: Barrage


Directed by Laura Schroeder
Starring Lolita Chammah, Thémis Pauwels, Isabelle Huppert, Charles Müller, Elsa Houben, Marja-Leena Juncker and Luc Schiltz

by Laura Patricia Jones

What happens when three generations of women reunite and fall apart in one turbulent weekend? Barrage is the story of a mother who once pushed to her limits seeks to gain the love and trust of her daughter back, watching from the sidelines as her daughter is raised and controlled by her own mother, bringing back memories of her own strict childhood. Beautifully shot and wonderfully gripping, this evocative second feature from Luxembourger writer-director Laura Schroeder is consuming from beginning to end.

Lolita Chammah and her real-life mother Isabelle Huppert play daughter and mother Catherine and Elisabeth, fighting for Catherine’s illegitimate daughter Alba (Themis Pauwels) who has been raised by Elisabeth for over a decade. If there’s one thing Pauwels does well here is be an annoying spoilt prepubescent sprog (through no fault of her own character) that makes the struggle all the more believable.

Catherine who went through a mad rebellious phase following her strict parental-induced tennis schedule does not know who Alba’s father is, and had to give her up to her own mother due to a period of substance abuse. She is now watching history repeat itself as Alba is put through rigorous tennis training by her own mother.

It’s a frustrating watch at times where you feel sympathy for Catherine as the protagonist (knowing you shouldn’t really) and want to bang all three heads together to make amends. But beautifully shot with moving and believable performances from Chammah and Huppert, it’s an arthouse gem which will hold your attention and keep you on your toes from beginning to end.




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