Milla ★★★★

The two films that came to mind as I watched this were Chantal Akerman and Pedro Costa, and not just because of her attentiveness to lighting. Massadian's apparently observational practice is sympathetic, like Akerman's, rather than punishing like those of Michael Haneke's disciples that seem so common today. But they also seem to depart from empirical reality, particularly (though not always) when the camera moves, and personal history and fantasy come alive in the same way they do in Colossal Youth and Horse Money.

Massadian's collaboration with Severine Jonckeere is outstanding as she transitions to a fictionalized (that is, scripted) portrait of poverty and relationships to the documentarian aspect of Jonckeere taking care of her child with still struggling to attain any kind of meaningful social mobility. I don't really have much to add to what has been written and said about this, so I'll point to some others.

From Darren Hughes' interview with Massadian in Filmmaker Magazine, she says:

I believe in the still shot and I believe in the person watching it. For example, the cat sequence: whether you focus on the cat or you focus on Séverine or you focus on the red curtain that moves, it all has to work. And [where you focus your attention] won’t change what you’re seeing or what you’re supposed to feel. Everything in a shot counts. Maybe one person in five or ten will notice there are girl toys and boy toys. When they eat together, there is a pink glass and a blue glass. This kid is only two-and-a-half, and already he doesn’t want the pink glass. A lot of people don’t see that, and it’s fine. For me, everything that is in this shot has to carry something.

And Neil Bahadur has written about it twice, here and here ; my thoughts would only echo those (and, in fact, already have).