3 January 2016
Lucie Borleteau’s ‘Fidelio: Alice’s Journey’
It's difficult to imagine Fidelio: Alice's Journey, Lucie Borleteau 's first feature, being made in any country but France, where it was released late in 2014 as Fidelio, l’odyssée d’Alice. For a start, the setting is mostly on board a container ship, the Fidelio. Secondly, Alice, a Bretonne like many French sailors, is one of the ship's officers. Thirdly, she is an engineer, good at her job and accepted quite happily by the other officers and ship's crew.
At short notice, 30-year old Alice, played with conviction by Ariane Lebed ( last seen here as one of the villa party in Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight), has to leave her boyfriend, Félix (Anders Danielsen Lie), to take the place of one of Fidelio's engineering officers after his sudden death. Fidelio's captain, Gaël (Melvil Poupaud), was her instructor when she was a student, not just in matters nautical. They revive their affair - infidelity on the part of both. Perhaps not surprisingly, Alice gets a good report and, after some leave with family and boyfriend, returns to the Fidelio as chief engineer. This time, during a longer series of voyages including a call in Senegal, she has a fling with one of the other engineers and starts to read her predecessor's diary. Eventually, the Fidelio, increasingly prone to technical problems, having reached Gdansk is scrapped, a metaphor for Alice's relationship with Félix.