A Paris in black and white, a district that has never before been filmed, the towers of the 13th arrondissement, new faces emerging on screen: in Les Olympiades, presented in competition at Cannes in 2021, Jacques Audiard renews the stories of a aquoibonist generation, on the verge of disenchantment.

Adapted from three new graphics by Adrian Tomine, the film shines with that energy of wanting to embrace the era. The intelligent script, which the director co-wrote with Céline Sciamma and Léa Mysius, captures the spirit of the times so well that it ends up being stuck in its current events, ticking a few too many boxes.

Emilie (Lucie Zhang), a recent Sciences Po graduate, finds herself selling phone plans. Camille (Makita Samba), a disillusioned French teacher in his thirties, no longer believes in the republican meritocracy from which he nevertheless came. Nothing seems to work anymore, except sex, but Emilie and Camille will still try to taste a little of the paradise that their parents sold them. Finding a job, falling in love, et cetera.

This comedy, like a marivaudage, opens with a scene full of indolence and irony. Here is Emilie, a languid beauty with long brown hair, naked on her sofa, holding a microphone. She has just made love with Camille, her roommate, and is singing a song in her mother tongue, Chinese. The two nerds barely know each other, and Camille asks Emilie how she’s doing as a teleconsultant. She then takes on the suave voice of a hostess and mimes a dialogue selling ski passes. You might as well laugh at these odd jobs which are neither rewarding nor allow you to find proper accommodation.

Real estate metaphor

The story is also engulfed in the real estate metaphor since Camille decides to earn a little money by selling apartments, the time to pass the aggregation. He will meet Nora (Noémie Merlant), originally from Bordeaux, who has just left college, in Tolbiac, following a story of harassment on social networks: discovering her at a party with a blonde wig, her comrades promotions mistake her for a camgirl who sells her charms online, known as Amber Sweet (Jehnny Beth).

Emilie, Camille, Nora and Amber Sweet, here are four characters who try to make their way through the labyrinth of their slow lives, where only messages or online calls throb. Emilie meets people on her app, is happy and moves on. “Your link has expired,” you might say, in the sense of network connection and romantic relationship. It is in this exploration of language, which comes after sex – “I fuck, and I see afterwards”, summarizes Emilie – that the film finds its accuracy, the characters exploring their sexuality without judgment, in the whirlwind of their lives. Maybe one day will come a word of love.

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