The current political climate of the world has, unsurprisingly, sparked a blaze of commentary and critique from artists. With a never-ending flood of bad news, many of us have learned to build walls to keep this flow contained; however, political art has risen again to remind us why too many walls are a cruel detriment. Just Me and You offers a small insight into the issues restricting freedom of movement, from the perspective of a young girl who just wants to play on the beaches in Mexico.
An excitable young Eva has embarked on a road-trip from Montreal to Mexico with her father, Stephan, in his large transport truck. The road trip down is a pleasant snapshot of their relationship – Eva singing along to the radio carefree, father chuckling away at Eva’s mispronunciation of the state “Missi-pee-pee”. Apart from Stephen’s rigid time-schedule that prevents Eva from playing on the beach, their trip is eventless. They clearly have a perfectly typical and warm family bond, which is why it’s so peculiar when Stephan suddenly disappears for the day and leaves Eva alone in their motel room. When he finally returns, he claims to have been working and announces they must leave. While driving back up, they pause for a break and Eva hears a voice other than her father’s in the truck…
From the first opening minute, there is an odd feeling of foreboding for what is, on the surface, an innocent holiday abroad. Stephan, in particular, seems to emulate tension in situations that would not regularly call for it. Stephan’s stress was contagious and cast a wholesome road-trip into a dimly anxious experience, therefore the revelation midway through allowed the plot to finally match subtext. Not that this made the viewing experience any less stressful.
During a particularly nerve-racking scene played out on the border, the film did not need dramatic scores or panicked editing cuts to convey suspense, simply knowing what was on the line if they were to fail and be caught out was enough to settle a heavyweight in the pit of the viewer’s stomach. The occasionally glancing shot back to the truck during a search was enough to tangibly feel Stephan’s stress.
Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers filmed in a duller colour gradient, meaning the cinematography projects “ordinary”. There is no idyllic haze comforting the viewer, there is only plain reality to emulate the harsh lives that many are forced to live.
Brodeur-Desrosiers and screenwriter, Luis Molinié, view this confusing world from Eva’s perspective and portray her coming-of-age story. Leaving as a naive, joyful girl, she returns detached, confused but clearly hurt by her father’s deception. At this stage, she is unable to fully grasp the selflessness of her father’s actions and is instead preoccupied with his betrayal in using her as a guise and breaking their promise of a beach holiday. There is a moral ambiguity and a sense that Eva’s image of her perfect father has been cracked. Choosing to tell this story from Eva’s perspective prevents us gaining a more intimate insight into the reality of border movement and unfortunately also cast Stephan’s character in a slightly negative light. However, this limited perspective is vindictive of our actual understanding of these lives. Many of us from a privileged standpoint are unable to fully comprehend the desperate desire to escape over a border and our perspective is limited, either by nativity, confusion, selfishness or restrictive news coverage.
Just Me and You was a fleeting yet effective snapshot into the harsh realities of restricted borders and the distances people will go to secure themselves a home. With limited time, Brodeur-Desrosiers creates immersive tension from subtle glances and darting shots, that allows the audience to empathise with Stephan. Even though Eva’s child-like viewpoint of this scenario may render the story a little restrictive and forces a distance between the audience and the Mexican family hiding in the truck, this was still a revealing short film and will hopefully help to breakdown any mental walls people have built around these pressing issues.
Dir: Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers
Scr: Luis Molinié
Cast: Florin Peltea, Dalia Binzari
Prd: Johannie Deschambault (Les Films Camera Oscura)
DOP: Mathieu Laverdière
Music: Peter Venne
Run time: 21 mins