“Elle s’appelle Sabine” (2007)
Ideally the documentary form should present an objective point of view. How then to judge a film which by the very nature of the film maker’s intimate relationship with the subject guarantees the intrusion of emotional subjectivity that might very well alter the foundation of, not only the conclusions of the film, but the very techniques employed by which such predetermined ends are reached? In such a case, are facts sufficiently colored by such a prejudicial perspective on the part of the film maker, that it might render the film’s deductions capable of question?
French actress Sandrine Bonnaire has chosen as the subject of her directorial debut a portrait of her younger autistic sister Sabine, who despite demonstrating remarkable proficiency in music and an enthusiasm for literature, athletic activity and travel (she loves America), is spirited away to a hospital at the age of 28, where in the five year period comprising her institutionalization, she undergoes a monstrous transformation rendering her barely able to function and in a semiconscious state. The tragedy blatantly illustrated in the film is in the stark counterpoint between the pre and post institutionalized Sabine in manner, behavior and appearance. To say that the contrasts are shocking does not do the crimes of negligence against this young woman justice; a point that is made repeatedly over and again with an unerring sense of shock value by the clearly rankled film maker.
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