A biopic about Henri Groues better known as Abbe Pierre who entered priesthood shunning his opulent family background. He almost lost his life as part of resistance during World War II. He became Deputy of the Popular Republican Movement (MRP). He literally fought for every cause that causes mankind indignity. He waged war against hunger, against housing problems and against poor health care. Due to his advocacy, he got elected to the French Parliament.
The actor who portrayed this French Saintly Priest is Benjamin Lavernhe (Love at Second Sight, C’est La Vie, The Speech). How exciting it must have been to be casted in such a role showing Abbe Pierre from priesthood to his golden years in life. Benjamin’s acting was a sight to behold. He captured the plight of Abbe Piere from an ingenue priest to a young struggling revolutionary.
Two scenes that highlight that part was when he got tempted by a local lass who just lost her husband to the war. Benjamin’s performance showed the struggle to resist temptation. It was evident in his eyes and in every muscle of his body. The scene was electrifying. He after all was not only a soldier but also a priest. In another scene, he had to announce who the traitor was in the resistance. The traitor to be announced was to be eliminated. One could see it in his eyes. He didn’t want to do it but he did. Two scenes that actors would fight to be able to portray. It doesn’t end there.
The time Benjamin Lavernhe had to portray the Politician Abbe Pierre. I was amazed and mesmerized with the performance. The public speeches that he had to portray had the cadence of a machine gun trying to eliminate the enemy. Benjamin had to be on point every second to be effective. He hit all targets. Remember he had to show that Abbe Pierre because of these speeches and personal appearances became the most popular personality in France as proven by numerous polls. Mind you, Benjamin captured the charisma of Abbe Pierre. Benjamin Lavernhe became Abbe Pierre.
Benjamin still had to portray the most powerful era of Abbe Pierre’s later years when he had to survive life and death situations including a long term hospitalization, surviving a sunken ship abroad and getting through a vicious take over of his Organization. Benjamin was transformed into a feeble bodied person but still had to be formidable, invincible and powerful. In my opinion he did it so effectively I was moved, I was convinced.
Kudos also to the direction of Frederick Tellier and the cinematography of Renaud Chassaing. The film was a biopic that had a pulse, had a life. I was mesmerized with all aspects of the acting, the scenery, and the costumes as the era changed. Each frame was like a painting. Renaud Chassaing’s mesmerizing cinematography is to be experienced in the cinema.
I was blessed to watch the Premiere of this film at the Cannes Film Festival at the Grand Lumiere Theatre last May 26, 2023. I was in the Orchestra seat two rows behind the cast and crew. I could not believe that the film I am experiencing was created by two rows worth of French Geniuses, all masters of their craft. Standing right behind them as they received the thunderous standing ovation, they were emotional as they hugged each other. I am humbled to be there at that moment.
This movie has taught me that an effort of one man can cause mankind to care about humanity. If we all take the mantle that Abbe Pierre has started, our world will be a better place. It might not still be ideal but it will be more humane thanks to Abbe Pierre’s legacy. Thank you to this masterpiece of Frederick Tellier. I am open. I am inspired to inspire. I am excited to create more meaningful films…because of this movie, I Am Enlightened !