“I will always see your faces”: filmmaker Jeanne Herry explores violence and its damage


Sabine (Miou-Miou) and Nawelle (Leïla Bekhti) in “I will always see your faces”, by Jeanne Herry.


After a first half-thriller half-comedy feature (She adores him2014), the director Jeanne Herry had chosen gravity four years later to approach, in Pupil (2018), the subject of X-rated childbirth and adoption. It is in this same register that his new film, I will always see your faces, who is interested this time in restorative justice. A practice enshrined in French law since 2014, which aims, in a secure environment and in the presence of mediators, to bring together detainees and victims or relatives of victims, all volunteers. The former being invited to talk about their acting out and the reasons that led them to it, the latter to express the painful upheavals caused by their attack.

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Jeanne Herry found in this device a fertile ground that could feed several stories and bring together as many characters. At the end of in-depth research work during which she attended mediator training, she wrote the script for an ensemble film which brings together well-known or star actors and actresses. A troupe that rehearsed together before embarking on the two stories that lead, in parallel, I will always see your faces. One recounting the journey of Chloé (Adèle Exarchopoulos) – alongside her companion, Judith (Elodie Bouchez) – towards meeting her brother, who raped her when she was a child. And that of Nassim (Dali Benssalah), sentenced for theft with violence, preparing then joining the support group which will bring other faces and discover other testimonies of broken lives.

On this canvas, the film follows a chronological and educational layout whose aspiration is to strive for completeness. This is how we first witness the training of two volunteer mediators, Michel (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) and Fanny (Suliane Brahim) whose freshness gently prepares us for what follows: questions and hesitations of Chloé concerning her approach, then the setting up of the “circle”. Namely the group which brings together, in the middle of a vast prison room, three victims of home-jacking, robbery and snatching (respectively interpreted by Miou-Miou, Gilles Lellouche, Leïla Bekhti) and three attackers ( Birane Ba, Fred Testot, Dali Benssalah), detained for acts perpetrated on persons other than the above-named.

Routes flown over

Seated on chairs arranged in a circle, everyone bends to the exercise, with more or less ease and interest. Mutism, resentment, anger, credulity, tears, punctuate the various interviews, at the end of which we will see each other getting closer and understanding each other better. The same goes for the meeting between Chloé and her brother which, quickly dispatched, nevertheless suggests a possible repair.

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