Vampire Owl: I have heard that name before, and not just once.
Vampire Bat: Yes, if you go back in history, sibyls were oracles in Ancient Greece.
Vampire Owl: They had prophesied at holy sites of Greece, right?
Vampire Bat: Yes, and their prophecies were supposed to be influenced by the gods.
Vampire Owl: I guess that they also lead to the foundation of many great cities.
Vampire Bat: Yes, because they go a long way back, with Heraclitus mentioning them in the 5th century BC itself.
Vampire Owl: Well, when gods speak through these women, you are forced to accept that it is the truth.
Vampire Bat: What they spoke were also collected in Sibylline Books. The Romans had them.
Vampire Owl: I have seen them at other places too, I am sure about it.
Vampire Bat: Michelangelo shows five sibyls in the Sistine Chapel ceiling. There are other similar art works, and has references in the works of Shakespeare. It is to be seen how this relates the movie here or if it is just a name used for the sake of it.
[Gets an marble cake and three cups of cardamom tea].
What is the movie about? :: A popular psychotherapist Sibyl (Virginie Efira) decides to quit her job and become a famous writer as she always wanted to. Her job no longer interested her, and work satisfaction gets to zero despite her patients feeling otherwise, not being able to continue without her expertise in their lives. As Sibyl begins to turn away patients, she has a lot of time, but no inspiration, reaching the writer’s block earlier than she had expected. It is why when she gets a call from Margot (Adele Exarchopoulos), a young new actress caught in a dramatic affair with a popular actor, Igor (Gaspard Ulliel) in the same movie, who is living with the film’s director Mikaela Sanders (Sandra Huller). This seems to be a complicated enough tale for a story as far as Sibyl is concerned, just like the newspapers finding entertainment from the lives of these celebrities who make news from the dress they wear, places they visit, food they eat and the people they meet.
So, what happens with the events here? :: The celebrity life becomes something special for the new writer, as far as entertainment is concerned, as she asks Margot about the minute details of their life, and records them using her mobile phone’s sound recorder to listen to the same later. Becoming further interested and immersed in Margot’s life, Sibyl begins to use Margot’s life as the main source material for her novel, finally seeming to get the inspiration and ideas that she always wanted, and at times, it also reflects moments from her own life. But where will that lead her, Igor and Margot, as Sibyl also has a one night stand with Igor while trying to help them to focus on the film instead of being uncomfortable with each other? None of them are really happy as they try to move to the end of shooting schedule because the film has already been delayed enough for different reasons. Now one has to wonder if it is the movie or the novel that completes first, whether it is the releasing or publishing that will bring the people earlier – Sibyl and Mikaela would definitely want things to speed up.
The defence of Sibyl :: Here we have a complex movie which has elements that go deep into a person’s eventful mind. The main character, even though specialized in dealing with such minds, is not a strong enough person in herself. As the complicated psychologist, the confused writer, the lustful lover and the struggling mother, all of these going safe with the leading lady who plays the main character, the only thing that the movie and the rest of the characters need to do is to follow her. She has easily risen above the level of the whole movie itself, as she is as much natural as she is a complex personality. There are questions about relationships and professional life, as well as love and career, as people struggle to keep both going in the same pace. There are a few dramatic, emotional and romantic moments which stand apart, and we have other moments which come as a mixture of different feelings. The visuals of France are very good as expected.
The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Sibyl does drag right from the beginning. The slow pace comes on to pull it back a little bit, but we can go past it eventually. The beginning itself was not that great, and the interesting moments takes a little bit extra time to come on the screen. Adele Exarchopoulos who was part of Blue Is the Warmest Colour is also not used well enough in this movie, and she deserved a role close enough to having a similar interest as the main character here. The twenty six year old actress earned such international attention and critical appreciation for that role, that being in a drama movie like this one, she could achieve even more. Adele is indeed that kind of a performer, and she is forced into the shadow of the main character here. The film could have also had some more action in between, and we are left with needing even more.
Performers of the soul :: It is Virginie Efira’s performance that elevates this movie to another level, and we can be only glad that we could witness he same, as it has many sides to it – she plays a character having so many sides, and all of them are indeed interesting. The forty three year old actress brings both experience and style into this movie, and it has to be noted that she looks at least ten years younger in this movie, as there is a certain amount of youthful vivacity in her, and this enthusiasm catches our attention more than anything else. Playing a complicated character like this required quite some skills. Adele Exarchopoulos is more or less known for Blue Is the Warmest Colour, a movie which has been known for its controversy, but was appreciated more – yet, it has to be noted that she doesn’t have that much of a work to do here while Virginie scores highly with each and every moment she is on the screen. But she remains close to her character, and so does Gaspard Ulliel. The rest are just smaller parts of the movie’s proceedings.
How it finishes :: Unlike the other French movies which I have reviewed on this page, this is one film which provides us with the feeling that it is clearly not American or British – maybe, the French feeling is there throughout it, somewhat the same being already there in Portrait of a Lady on Fire which made us feel the same less because it was more or less historical drama. Sibyl is not the kind of movie that everyone would love to watch with a psychotherapist with a complicated past trying to write a novel in which the characters who are from real-life, and they also have some similar problems. There is also the question about the meaning of life being asked, as many events happen with hope not being the strongest thing. The movie makes an interesting slow journey through the lives of these people, who become more or less like the common people rather than the big complex personalities which they seem to be in the beginning, and the movie comes to a simple end.
Release date: 24th May 2019
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Justine Triet
Starring: Virginie Efira, Adele Exarchopoulos, Sandra Huller, Laure Calamy, Gaspard Ulliel, Niels Schneider, Paul Hamy, Arthur Harari
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.