I really admire a filmmaker who has the tenacity to aim for a level of humanism that is rarely seen in cinema today. Samuel Collardey reaches for these heights and succeeds in his debut feature, The Apprentice /L’apprenti screening at Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2009.
Like a loving cousin to the Kazakh film “Tulpan” that unfurled at last year’s NYFF and akin to the “Up” films of Michael Apted, The Apprentice was shot one week a month over a span of ten months using mostly non-actors. The film does not feel like a documentary though and that is in most part to the incredible acting by Mathieu Bulle. He plays 14 and 1/2 year old Mathieu, who is on a teenage quest to find meaning. Haven’t we all been there–IM chatting late at night with an invisible girl? What’s really tremendous about this process of shooting a movie is the audience really gets a truthfulness in every frame. We are with Mathieu as he goes through his own high pitched puberty battle and and we witness the beautifully photographed rural environment go from a lush summer to a white winter . It’s quite an accomplishment.
The film meanders in the beginning not knowing where to settle, but once it finds its pace at Mathieu’s surrogate family’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony, where our hero says “life is shit” we know he’s on the up and up. His hero is the farmer (with a Sam Elliott mustache) he apprentices for. They sled down hills, deliver baby bulls and relearn what it means to be a father and son. I left this film thinking this is one of the few films intelligent enough that you can take your children too. There is nothing crass or sinister about it. Just an honest, truthful look at growing up and regaining something that was once lost.
Buy Tickets to The Apprentice: Thu Mar 12: 8:45