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Her Name Is Sabine

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars
French screen stalwart Sandrine Bonnaire has taken time out from performing in front of the cameras of luminaries such as Chabrol, Rivette and André Téchiné to turn the lens on her older sister Sabine who, in her late thirties, was diagnosed as psychoinfantile with autistic tendencies after a counterproductive five-year stint in a psychiatric hospital.

Sabine is plump, lethargic and sometimes exasperatingly hands-on, and Bonnaire pulls no punches in demonstrating how her cherished sibling is a pale shadow of her former self, by inserting washed-out video footage of a young, boisterous Sabine singing, dancing and generally high on the joys of adolescence. Incorporating themes of sisterly devotion, the power of memory and the taken-for-granted nature of independence, this peaceful and unobtrusive film patiently captures the details of Sabine’s daily life, from erratic outbursts of violence and invective to moments of innocence and introspection.

In the film’s heartbreaking final scene, Sabine is asked if she would like to watch some camcorder footage taken on a trip to New York during her childhood. As her mind is flooded with images of her carefree youth, she initially bursts into what look like tears of pure revulsion. When asked if the footage is too much for her, she quietly responds, ‘No, it’s making me cry tears of joy.’ It’s an incredible moment, almost like we’re witnessing an instance of spiritual grace, as Sabine finally comes to terms with the  changes that have stymied her cerebral development. Props to the ICA for giving time to this tough, rewarding work.
Written by David Jenkins

Release Details

  • Rated:12A
  • Release date:Friday 20 June 2008
  • Duration:90 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Sandrine Bonnaire
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