TIFF 2015 - Keeper is poignant and unsparingMaxime (Kacey Mottet Klein) and Mélanie (Galatea Bellugi) are two 15-year olds in puppy love. However, an unwanted pregnancy threatens to tear the teens apart. Maxime has his mind set on playing professional football, instead of tending to his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Melanie’s mother (Laetitia Dosch) cautions the young couple about the responsibilities ahead. As the birth date draws closer, the teens struggle with the realities of growing up.
Keeper (the debut feature from Belgian director Guillaume Senez) is a major find. This tough, tender drama explores a tumultuous time in late youth with unflinching honesty. Klein and Bellugi are astoundingly natural, singlehandedly anchoring the film.
While there is simmering intensity underneath all of Klein’s moments, the young actor shows deep empathy and sensitivity as his character comes of age. (There is an obvious change of stance and maturity from his first scene to last.) Meanwhile, it only takes a few glances from Bellugi to convey Mélanie’s constantly shifting feelings.
Senez and co-writer David Lambert deftly observe the accelerations and aches of teenage life. However, there is a story imbalance. Maxime’s rift between his sporting dreams and real-life responsibilities often delegates Mélanie’s emotional journey to that of a subplot. Nevertheless, Keeper is poignant and unsparing. It’s a coming-of-age drama that’s hard to forget.
IS KEEPER ESSENTIAL FESTIVAL VIEWING?
Keeper captures a teenage crisis with intelligence, aided by two of the finest performances by young actors in recent memory. It’s an unsentimental gem that’s well worth a place in TIFF’s Discovery programme.
Jordan Adler The Toronto Film Scene