L’après-midi de Clémence (Clémence’s Afternoon) is as muted in tone as it is in its colour scheme. It’s a mood piece, set on a lazy afternoon, with an unhurried pace perfectly suiting the long days of summer. But just as the tasteful patches of colour stand out from the more subdued backdrops, the script’s well observed moments feel even more heartbreaking against what should be an innocent afternoon.
In the short, the young Clémence accompanies her parents to a picnic, where she struggles to fit in with the other children. One of the most striking things about Lénaïg Le Moigne’s film is the sense of inevitability in how its story unfolds, the way the first moment of social awkwardness leads to a distance that just can’t be overcome. Clémence tries joining in with the other kids, and is almost immediately pegged as an outsider. She tries avoiding them, but that only makes her distance more obvious. There’s a scene at the film’s mid-point that is a perfect—and perfectly painful—portrait of the casual cruelty kids are capable of. The way it builds from whispers to taunts, the children feeding off each others’ increasing confidence as they bond through their mutual aggression, is devastating.
Clémence’s Afternoon isn’t exactly a pleasant watch despite its obvious beauty, just as the afternoon itself is unpleasant despite its idyllic setting. It is quietly heartbreaking, from its unhurried introduction to the crush of its last line. But like a day that you want to forget, this beautifully observed depiction of an awful afternoon is one that just won’t let go.
(Note: the full version of L’après-midi de Clémence is no longer online, so we’ve embedded a trailer below instead)
L’après-midi de Clémence
dir: Lénaïg Le Moigne
syn: Clémence and her parents participate to a big country picnic. Arriving late, Clemence joins the other children who are already playing away from adults, but everything does not happen in the good mood expected.