VFF Film Review – Tempête
A melancholy look at a man trying to do right by his kids, Tempête could be slow at times but was able to create a realistic look at what it takes to change one’s fate. Dom (Dominique Leborne), a long time fisherman, works many boats on the docks. He enjoys the life, in fact it is the only life he has known. His shore leave is too few and far between and he has to leave his teenage children, adoptive daughter Mailys (Mailys Leborne) and son Matteo (Matteo Leborne), alone a lot. When Mailys gets pregnant and ends up going back to live with her mother social services steps in and tells him he needs to be around more or he could lose custody.
For Dom this is a heavy issue; through conversations it seems the mother may have been an emotional wreck when they split up so he has been the parent in his children’s lives emotionally even when he wasn’t physically around. So he tries to figure out a way to be around more often by trying to get his own boat so he can control his hours. But this is not so easy with him not having a lot of capital to start with and at his age trying to break into this field is not as easy as he thinks it will be. Through it all he now no longer is bringing in an income and his family starts to suffer on that front as well.
What is interesting here is that while there is a sadness that permeates what is happening to Dom it isn’t as though the world is ganging up on him. There are legitimate reasons that this enterprise of his has problems and why people would be reluctant to support what he is doing. Dom is not entirely being a blind optimist about this because he knows there will be problems and is looking for legitimate ways to solve them. Yet his options are limited both emotionally and logically he loves fishing and it is what he knows so to walk away is difficult especially when he doesn’t have many other skill sets that can provide the money he needs.
The actors are all starring in their first movie ever and it is an encouraging start to their careers. The children act like children, they can be immature and impulsive but are able to have emotional moments. Be it small ones like Matteo being jealous that the boat will be named for his sister. Or a big moment like Maily’s dealing with her pregnancy. The adult lead Dom has a quiet presence through most of the film as he goes about looking for help in his endeavors. He tries to remain cool but breaks down with anger and sadness when things start to get to him especially when he thinks is losing his connection to his children. While these are not major acting moments they show a great deal of range early on that, since they appear to be an actual family, could come from that connection but for this film it works very well.
Director Samuel Collardey does well in crafting his scenes, looking at him on IMDB it seems he was a cinematographer first and it shows. He creates a gray look throughout like the sky is forever overcast. That is a typical independent film look that works well here in terms of setting in this small town and in the mood of the film. In creating the pace of how we see things progressing this is a slow moving story because so much of it is Dom simply living his life, studying his boating homework and doing things with his children. While it creates a sense of place and an emotional connection some of these moments started to make me wonder where this was all going and lost my interest at moments even if altogether it was able to keep me going till the end.
One of the things that stood out as odd was a side plot where Dom started to date a woman that felt really out of place since she had no major impact on the story and Dom talking to her felt unnecessary. Yet the overall feeling for the film worked and was capped off beautifully in its ending. Collardey was able to create an ending that was true to what had been happening throughout the film yet left a very cathartic finish that was not too over the top but provided a sense of hope that was also fitting.
As a small family drama there was a lot to like here. There were effective leads to get across the emotion and a director that had a way with creating atmosphere and pacing that allowed us to let the story wash over us as it came. There were minor pacing issues and little moments that didn’t work but overall this was a satisfying experience that left you melancholy on one end but optimistic as well.