With my 3 day pass at Cannes, I didn’t expect to meet any actors or directors but only to catch the screenings I would be allowed in and get the privilege to see some movies before the rest of the world.
It proved to be true, with one exception: when Andréa Bescond (main actress, co-writer and co-director of Little Tickles), Eric Metayer (co-writer and co-director) and one of the producers of this movie invited themselves into one of the screenings, watched the movie with us and offered us a Q&A right after.
Watching Little Tickles is already an emotional journey, but watching it with its writers/directors is indescribable.
Adapted from a play by the same writers and telling the real-life story of Andréa Bescond, Little Tickles tells the journey of Odette, a young woman (played by both Andréa Bescond (as an adult) & Cyrille Mairesse (as a child)) who seeks therapy to confront her past after years of silence on the rapes she suffered as a child from Gilbert Miguié, Pierre Deladonchamps (Stranger By The Lake, House Of Time), a close friend of her parents, Karin Viard (Polisse, Delicatessen) & Clovis Cornillac (A Very Long Engagement, Eden Log). The movie therefore navigates between Odette’s adult life and her memories.
The subject is very heavy, but handled well from start to finish. We never actually see anything graphic on screen, but the rapes are still made very explicit (both on screen and in some dialogue), a choice that will, without a doubt, rebuke some viewers but is in my opinion a necessary one – shying away from the reality of paedophilia wouldn’t have been a wise decision in portraying the life of a victim of such acts.
The emotional heaviness of the subject matter is, however, often alleviated by a lot of humour that never feels out of place but also rarely worked well either – it still, however, has the effect of balancing out the tone of the movie.
The main flaw of Little Tickles comes from the adaptation from the play, a flaw that is expected from first time directors and which mostly comes out through the humour that I thought didn’t work: a lot of the gags or jokes probably worked well with a live audience to interact with, but not so much in a feature-film.
For example, during her therapy sessions, Odette travels through her memories and is seen as an adult walking through them and commenting them, even changing them at will.
The first time this happens, the character explains it to us through a fun line of dialogue, but as it reoccurs again and again the same joke is also re-used.
It is obviously done to remind the audience of what is happening, as not to confuse them, but it can feel like the writers think of us as less smart than we actually are.
In a play, however, I have no doubt this repetition would work well, as the audience is expected to use their imagination to see what the actors describe to them with very limited space and props.
In the same way, a fantasy memory of Odette involves her running around on the stage of a prestigious opera house while showing her middle finger to the empty seats of the audience; a joke that again must work wonderfully well in front of a live audience that becomes part of the play, but a joke that feels a bit empty on a big screen.
Throughout the movie a beacon of hope for Odette emerges: her passion for dancing that becomes an escape of sorts.
The movie is therefore interspersed with a few dancing scenes that evoke Odette’s mental state and reconciliation with her body, as well as give the story a bit of a fairytale-like element accentuated by some of the classical music used in the soundtrack, an element that again alleviates the darkness of the subject matter and acts almost as the light against the darkness of Odette’s past.
The casting of the film is exceptional, especially Cyrille Mairesse as young Odette, who manages to convey the internal fears of the character with such little dialogue.
But most of all Karin Viard as Odette’s mother, an incredibly fascinating and almost repulsive character that could only work in the hands of such a great actress. The rest of the cast is incredible as well, and all have their moment to shine.
When the screen went dark and the lights went up, several people at my screening were sobbing and the first words said to the directors were just a simple “thank you”.
Little Tickles may have some flaws, but the story it is telling is one that deserves to be shown as widely as possible. The directors themselves told us they hope this movie will open discussions, raise awareness and prevent further sufferings. By being shown at the Cannes Film Festival it has already reached many people and is sure to reach many more, and I hope it will.