September 9th, 2022
MOVIE: HOLD ME TIGHT
STARRING: VICKY KRIEPS, ARIEH WORTHALTER, SACHA ARDILLY
DIRECTED BY: MATHIEU AMALRIC
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The narrative of Hold Me Tight is as complex as any life, as difficult, heartbreaking, and winding as it is to be a human at any time. It begins with a mother, prepping some food for her two children, cleaning up after her husband, and leaving a note on the kitchen table before driving away. And driving. And driving. Not looking back and escaping from the stress of life. Or at least that’s what it looks like at first but director Mathieu Amalric (the fantastic French actor from movies such as Quantum of Solace and The French Dispatch) is not telling this story on a linear path because that’s not what it’s about. Hold Me Tight is difficult to digest and has various twists in the story that would ruin the entire movie if revealed now, but it’s expertly brought to life through the constantly spectacular Vicky Krieps, as a mother navigating through all those complexities. Hold Me Tight is a fantastic piece, both a beautiful and heartbreaking work of cinema, in a highlight of storytelling in 2022.
Krieps is playing Clarisse, mother of Lucie (Anne-Sophie Bowen-Chatet) and Paul (Sacha Ardilly), with her husband Marc (Arieh Worthalter) often oblivious to the things that are going on. Soon after Clarisse has left, we get a glimpse of the aftermath, where it’s not long before the children and Marc are confused as to where mom could have gone. It’s after this revelation where the narrative begins to bounce around, to flashbacks of when the couple first met, to various moments of Lucie playing piano, or Paul just running outside and being a rambunctious boy. In between these flashbacks when we see Clarisse in her current state, stopping at a pub off the road, getting drunk and yelling at other guests, and a tone of regret begins to settle. Did she make the wrong decision of leaving? Should she go back? Those questions can’t be answered till Amalric moves the story further, revealing the truth of the matter slowly, and soon the audience will begin to wonder what is real, imaginary, or did any of the characters ever exist to begin with?
Hold Me Tight is adapted from the play by Claudine Galea, but instead of this being a story that confines a character to a tight stage, Amalric expands outside the spaces, allowing the story to evolve and never settle. It’s within that unsettled tempo that every scene brings forth a new revelation and we start to piece together exactly what has happened. All of these waves of emotion are brought forth from Krieps, who continues to impress, no matter what the material calls for. Her work here is much deeper than say what we saw in Bergman Island and much louder than what she portrayed in Phantom Thread. It’s because of her multilayered performance that allows the audience to join her in the roller coaster of her character’s life. Marital discourse, a mother struggling to be the only caretaker for her children, and the human need to escape are all expressed with great authenticity. You will be hard pressed to find another performance that feels this genuine and Krieps finds a way to raise the bar on her own expectations.
From a direction standpoint, Amalric has come into his own, clearly picking up parts of what he may have learned from a director such as Julian Schnabel (At Eternity’s Gate), where the cinematography from Christophe Beaucarne is visually real. Moving at a frantic pace when it calls for, capturing outdoor settings that deliver the smell of the air, or the rooms lived in. That pacing allows for the performance of Krieps to work alongside, as the camera moves anxiously so does Clarisse, or if she sits in the front of her car to smoke a cigarette we pick up that this is a moment of peace. It takes a unique bond between the director, the actor, the writing, and the material to merge together to create a narrative this authentic.
Although my review may not reveal much, what Hold Me Tight evolves into is a journey, an evolution of family, self reflection, navigating personal trauma, and what starts as a woman running away, eventually leads us back to where it began. When Hold Me Tight concludes you will have one viewpoint about the story at scene one and a completely different outlook at decisions made, what the reality truly is, and a different opinion when the credits begin to roll. This is the kind of cinema that I hold dear in my heart. It’s the power of cinema that we never get enough of.
HOLD ME TIGHT IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 9TH, 2022 FROM KINO LORBER
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady