Zabou Breitman / France / 2010 / 105 mins
The lack of public response to Zabou Breitman’s adaptation emphasises society’s dismissive thoughts on the homeless: if we ignore them, they might just go away. Based on Delphine de Vigan’s novel of the same name, No and Me follows precocious teenager Lou Bertignac (Nina Rodriguez) as she undertakes a study of female homelessness. Yet it soon becomes apparent that her comfortable Parisian home hides a tragic secret, as she persuades her parents to let her young friend move in, a drifter who spends most of her time at the local train station; and it seems no-one is prepared for the difficulties this will cause.
Staying true to de Vigan’s novel, Breitman presents an affecting human drama on the ever-topical issue of homelessness. Stripping away all the romanticism that surrounds the typical portrayal of French lifestyles, Breitman pitches a shocking exploration into the bleakness of a transient existence. Without turning to tear-jerking tricks, she is able to successfully capture the wild desperation of vagabond No and the lonely world of friendless Lou. Julie-Marie Parmentier gives a touching performance as the troubled No, struggling to accept the changes that come with leaving a street life behind. While humble, Breitman’s completely underrated film acts as an emotive reminder of the appalling hardships facing young people on the streets today.
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