2019 / drama / France / original title : Sibyl / 99’ / Color / status : completed / French / long feature-film
Sibyl, a jaded psychotherapist, returns to her first passion: writing. But her newest patient Margot, a troubled up-and-coming actress, proves to be a source of inspiration that is far too tempting. Fascinated almost to the point of obsession, Sibyl becomes more and more involved in Margot’s tumultuous life, reviving volatile memories that bring her face to face with her past.
Justine Triet (In Bed with Victoria, Cannes 2016 – Critics’ Week Opening Film) continues her unreserved exploration of the modern woman’s psyche with this intense and layered story.
Production: Les Films Pelléas
French distribution: Le Pacte
“A witty, slinky, highly pleasurable psychodrama with just enough on its mind, Sibyl piles up bad decisions like so many profiteroles in a croquembouche, admiring the teetering spectacle of its chaos as it goes. A cinematic dessert — albeit less a choux puff than a lemon tart, with sharper notes than expected to its creamy pleasures. Played with smart, subtle verve by Virginie Efira and boosted by a crack cast of Gallic dependables — unexpectedly joined by Sandra Hüller, a scream as a frazzled German auteur with far less control of her film than Triet wields on hers — this repeatedly surprising divertissement should rack up international arthouse sales, including major markets that Victoria undeservedly didn’t reach. Sibyl seals the arrival of Efira as a first-class leading lady of consistently expanding range and elan — with the emotional honesty and deadpan pluck to pull off the more outrageous character turns in Triet and Arthur Harari’s limber original script.”
“Providing a welcome female viewpoint on a genre that’s been all-too often tackled by men, Sibyl is at once a sultry, suspense-ridden drama, and the frenzied profile of a woman juggling professional and personal needs with extreme difficulty. Triet manages to build a complex, multi-dimensional portrait of a talented woman under the influence. Efira, in one of her most impressive all-encompassing performances to date, deftly channels Sibyl’s intense hunger for experience and the sour aftertaste it leaves on her personal life. The actress plays several roles at the same time and she does each one extremely well, turning Sibyl’s altered states into a whole that reflects her drive to be many things at once.”
The Hollywood Reporter
“A stylish thriller. This elegant story of a psychotherapist who steals her patient's story for a novel is a clever portrait of a creative crisis. A film-within-a-film spoof of the Woody Allen variety, a spirited look at how tension can run high on troubled sets, gives the ever-talented Hüller the opportunity to elevate the material with her portrayal of the ultimate reckless auteur. An energized Adèle Exarchopoulos gives her most involving turn since Blue is the Warmest Color.”
“Rich, playful and cruel, erecting themes and deceitful mirrors around the excellent Virginie Efira in a vertiginous, seductive, and perilous spiral. Justine Triet is an expert at the art of laughing of human folly and neurosis, without turning them into caricatures or misjudging them, but simply by placing them under her magnifying glass with its slightly distorting effect. Here, she demonstrates a sharp narrative intelligence as the films’ motifs niftily come to interlock with each other.”