U.Va. French Film Festival: A look back at the film “Slalom” by Charlène Favier 2020 – Le Cavalier Quotidien


Trigger warning – this article contains mentions of sexual coercion, assault and alcohol abuse.

The article also contains spoilers for the film.

During the third week of February, the U.Va. The French Film Festival screened seven films at various locations around the Grounds and at the Violet Crown, a theater in downtown Charlottesville. It is sponsored by several language departments, as well as the departments of media studies and art history.

The Festival Committee described these films as reflections of their theme”starfusion and urgency. The Committee wanted to reflect the feelings of extreme anxiety and disillusion that many people have experienced over the past two years.

The teachers involved have also endeavored to captivate the University and the community of Charlottesville with stories of “young people who are particularly aware of a relationship between urgency and possibility”. “Slalom” by Charlène Favier, the film screened last Friday at the Couronne Violette, fits this description well.

Favier’s “Slalom” tells the story of Lyz Lopez, an aspiring fifteen-year-old Olympic skier, and the emotional turmoil she experiences when she is assaulted by the person she trusts the most – her trainer Fred. . The consistent close-ups of Lyz’s facial expressions, along with an incredible performance from the young lead actress, provide a powerful insight into Lyz’s inner life. The viewer feels her pain as she endures a shocking betrayal of trust at an incredibly vulnerable time in her life.

Favier works to establish Lyz’s love of skiing. In an early scene, Lyz prepares for a day of skiing very early in the morning. As she exits her apartment and looks up at the sky, a beautiful score plays in the background. For a moment, the only thing on the screen is snow falling against the backdrop of the night sky. Combined with wide, consistent shots of magnificent snow-capped mountains, these landscape shots reveal Lyz’s appreciation for the beauty of the French Alps and for the sport in which it has allowed him to succeed.

When Lyz competes, the viewer is completely immersed in her point of view. Favier, herself a former winter sports athlete, strives to show the exact experience of skiers in competition. Lyz bends and shakes her legs to prepare for the intense pressure the twists and turns of the giant slalom will put on her knees.

The rhythmic beep of the stopwatch can be heard until Lyz’s run begins just before she launches down the mountain.

The camera follows her as she quickly weaves around tight corners and knocks down slalom gates in order to cut her time as much as possible. Favier invites viewers to experience the sensation of skiing with such reckless abandon, when the only concern is speed.

Through this film, Favier greatly succeeds in establishing the vulnerability of young female athletes to their male coaches. In this situation, the absence of Lyz’s mother is due to the family’s financial problems which have been exacerbated by the price of Lyz’s special school. It is partly this absence that allows Fred to have such easy access to his victim.

After Lyz wins her first major race, Fred drives her home because her mother can’t be there. On the way back, they stop at a race track and start circling it. At the start of the scene, it seems like a heartwarming moment between the two of them as they laugh and shout with zest for life. This scene quickly turns sour, however, as Fred suddenly pressures Lyz into performing a sex act on him, and Lyz is left confused and bewildered.

With the stress of ski racing and the intense discomfort created by that initial sexual lead, Lyz’s ratings suffer. Her mother, unaware of Fred’s actions, agrees to let Lyz move into her apartment. Lyz is clearly reluctant to do so, but ultimately says nothing, believing that maintaining a good relationship with Fred is of paramount importance to the advancement of her sports career. Horribly, the move gives Fred almost unlimited access to Lyz and her body.

“Slalom” takes on increasing intensity as Lyz struggles to keep her emotions in check. She drinks copious amounts of alcohol and begins to wander alone in the darkness of the forest. Through these scenes, Favier creates growing distress about Lyz’s state of mind and thus pity for Lyz which rises nauseatingly until the film’s climax, when Fred rapes her.

Favier shows Lyz’s aggression in excruciating detail. During the long scene, the viewer continually expects the camera to move away, but it never does. Lyz can’t look away, neither can the viewer. Favier wants the horrific impact of this act on young Lyz to be fully manifested in this scene, and she succeeds.

“Slalom” by Favier is a film of suffering. It is heartbreaking in its depiction of the sexual exploitation of a vulnerable young teenage girl. Thus, Favier does not give viewers a satisfying ending, such as the arrest of Lyz’s trainer, or even an ending in which Lyz tells a relative or friend about his assault.

Instead, Favier shows Lyz winning the race she’s been training for so long, then driving away in the snow. Fred follows her, telling her about all the places they will travel during her career. Lyz only utters one word in response – “No!”

It’s the last word she utters in the entire film. Lyz, for the first time, confronts Fred and his exploitation of her. Even if all she can do at this point is deny his plans to travel with her for errands, it’s still a significant win for a character who suffered in silence for so much of the film.

In the final scene, the camera shifts from Lyz’s pained and enraged expression to a visual of snow falling against the backdrop of the night sky. Favier does not provide any additional information on whether Lyz manages to escape Fred’s sexual advances or if she ever becomes an Olympic athlete.

With this ending, Favier further underscores the precarious position Lyz finds herself in and the difficulties she will face in trying to escape her trainer’s hold on her. Viewers are reminded of the fact that, in reality, athletes who find themselves in Lyz’s situation never come out unscathed.

Sexual assault survivors can seek help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE, or by exploring the resources and organizations available on the National Sexual Violence Resource website. Center. website. Students from can also get help through Counseling and psychology services online or at 434-243-5150, or Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at 434-982-2252.


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