BFI Flare 2022 ‘The Divide (La Fracture)’ Review: Revolutionary Healthcare

As Raf (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and Julie (Marina Foïs) find their relationship falling apart, Paris is being torn apart by the yellow vest protests. Born out of political and economic disatisfaction, the protests soon turn violent. One of those injured is Yann (Pio Marmaï), a man who resents being pigeonholed and is desperate to return to work before he is fired. After falling and breaking her arm, Raf and Julie find themselves trapped alongside Yann in a health system on the verge of collapse.

By taking a small view of just a few characters, director Catherine Corsini is able to explore some of the tensions and differences at the heart of the demonstrations that continue to divide France. Dismissed early on as a right-wing movement, the film features dismissive attitudes on both sides, unifying the desperate characters through shared experiences of suffering and survival. A moving and humorous sequence sees Raf and Yann assist in the delivery of a baby, whilst another more fraught sequence sees a sympathetic member of staff held at knifepoint by another man failed by the system.

All of this is framed within the context of a health system that cannot cope with the number of patients it is seeing. The service is essential, the patients are desperate and the workers are doing their very best. The film can be seen as nothing short of a excoriation of the health systems lack of funding. Patients are left waiting in corridors, treatments are delayed and the staff are so over-worked they can’t even make time for their own family emergencies.

Amidst all this chaos is the earnest but believable relationship between Raf and Julie. There are old grievances that simmer to the surface at the slightest provocation and moments of tender affection that suggest years of bonding and heartache. Tedeschi plays the part of the perennially wounded Raf with humour and compassion, whilst Foïs portrays the put upon Julie with sternness and concern that might have proved rote if not for her ability to bring the character to convincing life. Aïssatou Diallo Sagna completes the cast as the exhausted but sturdy nurse Kim, who becomes the bruised face of the French health system.

Corsini’s film is a deceptively complex story of dissatisfaction on a personal and national level. The small cast of characters feel emblematic of much larger social groups without feeling cliched or hollow. It’s a chaotic and disturbing impression of a society that is united by common needs and experiences but driven apart by the unseen

Four Stars

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