How do you remain a brilliant and independent woman when marrying a legionary? This is the question posed by director Rachel Lang , a former lieutenant in the army, in her new film My Legionary presented this year at the Directors 'Fortnight in Cannes and which questions the place of soldiers' wives in the Foreign Legion.
An exceptional and hyper realistic feature film, carried by Louis Garrel in a counter-useful role.
A pitch inspired by the director's military past
In 2017, Rachel Lang spent several months in Mali as part of Operation Barkhane , leaving her companion behind. 5 years later, having become a screenwriter and director ( Baden Baden ), she rewrites history with My Legionnaire .
Maxime ( Louis Garrel ) has just been appointed lieutenant of the Foreign Legion, based in Corsica, where the body goes on a secret mission. To follow her husband, his wife ( Camille Cottin ), a Parisian lawyer, and their young son move to the perimeter of the military base. It was there that Maxime took command of a regiment which left to fight in Mali. Staying behind, his wife alternates between managing the household and business trips to Paris, and limiting contact with the base as much as possible.
After four months of mission, the men return, unable to slip without transition into the slippers of a good lover or a nice father. In the grip of frustration, deeply touched by the death of one of their comrade, they are only waiting for one thing: to be able to return. The women's camp, tired of waiting, struggles to accept their destiny confined to the “ on break ” mode.
Women, those forgotten in the Legion
Reconciling a love life with a commitment to the army in the 3rd millennium: this is the bet that all the wives of legionaries make. Even if it means simply forgetting yourself. The question of happiness and freedom does not need to be in an environment crushed by machismo where the role of women is to be, at best, “ a good wife ” in the style of the 1950s vase ... We can see better why the Legion did not welcome the release of the film.
For the wife of Maxime embodied by Camille Cottin , a hyperactive lawyer whose name we never know, it is torture under the old regime. This free intellectual accustomed to Parisian life does not support the practices almost imposed by the “ club of wives ”, where a lieutenant's wife must remain in a clan and set an example by getting involved in sewing and pottery activities, organized by traditional Catholic mothers from the community.
Adversity takes an even more tragic turn for the young Nika ( Ina Marija Bartaite ) , engaged to Vlad, childless, who does not speak a word of French and does not understand the codes of this quasi-prison community.
Louis Garrel as a legionnaire, a role against the job
He is a transformed Louis Garrel, lean, muscular, short hair, with a rhythmic gait and controlled military jargon that we discover in My Legionnaire , far from the romantic roles à la Rohmer that we know him. It took “ hard work to get him out of the very Germanopratin image that sticks to his skin [and] that he no longer walks like a Parisian in love with a book in his pocket,” laughs Rachel Lang on France Inter .
The director, who has rubbed shoulders with miloufs since she was 18, aims to make a super-documentary of this universe that fascinates her. For this role against the job, Garrel, of the generation of those who have not even done military service , will have to find legitimacy to embody this over-performing and upright character in his boots, who leaves nothing to chance .
To be seen in theaters from October 6.