Something in the Air (Après mai)

Film Review by Jamie Dunn | 17 May 2013
Film title: Something in the Air (Après mai)
Director: Olivier Assayas
Starring: Clément Métayer, Lola Créton, Hugo Conzelmann, Léa Rougeron, Félix Armand, Carole Combes, India Salvor Menuez
Release date: 24 May
Certificate: 15

Set in 1971, Something in the Air is French filmmaker Olivier Assayas’s ebullient tribute to the kids who had to follow in the footsteps of those student firebrands who helped bring his country to a standstill in the summer of 1968. It centres on Gilles (Métayer), a mop-haired teen who wants to change the world but doesn’t quite know how. Political, artistic, nonchalantly handsome – he's essentially the kind of gloriously pretentious Frenchman that would send knees quivering if he turned up at your secondary school on a cross-channel exchange.

Gilles is clearly a thinly-veiled version of Assayas, who also missed out on the generation-defining strikes of ‘68 (he would have been 13 at the time), and authentic autobiographical detail is what makes Something in the Air sing. Politics with a big 'P' can often drown cinema, but in Assayas’s sure hands the moving image wins out. By the film’s end individual expression has trumped political collectivism and his onscreen stand-in has channelled his political ardour into personal filmmaking rather than agitprop. [Jamie Dunn]