Director Joachim Lafosse transforms Laurent Mauvignier‘s novel into a feast for the senses as he depicts a mother and son’s journey through the challenging physical landscape of the Kyrgyzstan mountains.
Sybille (Virginie Efira) and her volatile adult son Samuel (Kacey Mottet Klein) attempt to rebuild their fractured relationship on a horseback trek through the rugged landscape of Kyrgyzstan. However, the dangers that they face are no match for the personal boundaries which stand between them.
Thomas van Zuylen‘s screenplay gradually drip feeds details of Sybille and Samuel’s shaky past, keeping a sense of intrigue and investment alive as Keep Going progresses. The ups and downs of this dynamic are perfectly channelled in captivating central performances from Klein and Efira with this contemporary western feeling like somewhat of a two-hander. Although smaller supporting characters drift into Sybille and Samuel’s journey – they merely act as catalysts for the transitions and growth that we will see between our protagonists.
Klein’s performance captures Samuel’s anger towards his mother – holding the failure of his parent’s marriage, their lack of connection, on his mother. He’s an interesting protagonist who always appears one small incident away from snapping into a violent rage. Efira explores Sybille’s exhaustion and desperation for a connection with her son – this trip is her chance to prove there is a connection between them. Both prove magnetic leads who channel their respective character’s inner frustrations with a subtle, non-dialogue heavy pair of performances.
This already tense relationship is heightened by the elements of danger within the pair’s trip across the rugged terrain of the Kyrgyzstan mountains. This allows Lafosse to play with the tropes of the Western genre – albeit those explored from the Kyrgyzstani perspective. Scenes involving threatening outlaws, horse escapes and hidden pits of quicksand inject some set-pieces and action into Keep Going which provide a break from the quieter scenes of Sybille and Samuel interacting.
Shot with a picturesque beauty from Jean-François Hensgens, Keep Going shines in its depiction of the sparse and rocky terrain of the Kyrgyzstan setting. Hauntingly beautiful landscapes fill Keep Going with an eerie uncertainty – capturing the harsh physical surroundings and the unpredictable nature of life in the wilderness.
Andrew McArthur | [rating=4]
Drama | Belgium, 2018 | NC-15 | Subtitles | Glasgow Film Festival | Dir.Joachim Lafosse |Virginie Efira, Kacey Mottet Klein, Diego Martín