Director: Rachel Lang
Cast: Salomé Rihard, Claude Gensac, Swann Arlaud
Watch Baden Baden online in the UK: MUBI UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent)
French-Belgium filmmaker Rachel Lang presents her directorial debut with this unconventional coming-of-age drama. The film stars newcomer Salomé Richard – who previously starred in Lang’s short films, I Will Fight for You and White Turnips Make it Hard to Sleep – as Ana, a 26-year-old French set runner currently working on a big budget film. After receiving a verbal (and pretty harrowing) warning from its director – after she arrives late 45 minutes late – Ana takes off for her hometown of Strasbourg to visit her sick grandmother, and consequently rekindles an old flame.
Baden Baden premiered at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival to favourable reviews. The film undeniably echoes poignant qualities that mirror the lovely freshness that derives from European cinema – particularly elements from Blue is the Warmest Color, Fat Girl and Fish Tank. However, you can’t help, at times, but feel the film is somewhat inconsequential, with scenes including a bathroom retiling making you ponder whether Lang has put her central character to full, worthy use. On the other hand, its incidental deadpan comedy and feminist essence often makes up for it.
Richard is undoubtedly charming in her feature film debut and will no doubt be recognised across Europe as the director’s muse. Baden Baden is said to be Lang’s third instalment of her Ana trilogy, after the character was explored in her two previous short films – with Richard in the lead role, naturally. The actress exudes an angelic and pure quality – one that does not require, nor could wish for, a more glamourous undertone.
Baden Baden evokes a compelling performance from Richard and contains some of the most candid pieces of dialogue of the year. However, it explores the classic theme of a young adult walking the world in search of purpose, and while this is relatable to countless confused, lost and unmotivated twenty-somethings around the world, you can’t help but feel that the film is somewhat too relatable, crossing the border to become just plain depressing.
Baden Baden is available to rent on MUBI UK.