February 24, 2024

French director Justine Triet’s 2014 feature, “Age of Panic,” premiered at Cannes and caused a significant impact in French cinema. The film opened the door for new realms of creativity in blending fiction and documentary in a refreshing and original manner, creating a generational renewal effect with several other French films released around the same period. However, the promise of new energy in French cinema seems to have been short-lived both for the general French cinema and Triet’s own work, as her latest film, “Anatomy of a Fall,” veers in a different direction. Triet’s “Age of Panic” remains unreleased. It’s now available to stream on MUBI. The film is set against the backdrop of the 2012 Presidential election in France, providing a political and family drama that depicts the turbulence of the times.

“Age of Panic” immerses its characters into the ideological framework of a significant political moment while maintaining a seamless connection with the story’s family and friends dynamics. Triet’s film is a unique blend of political documentary and unpredictable domestic drama, an approach that remains consistent throughout her work. While the film may appear intense, it retains an element of humor and is reminiscent of scenes in works by John Cassavetes. Triet skillfully films the confrontations as if she couldn’t foresee or predict where they’d lead the characters, capturing a documentary tone and style that creates a sense of instability and turmoil in crowded frames. The film requires ingenious planning and carefully calibrated chutzpah, but it’s Triet’s wildest film to date and contrasts greatly with her subsequent works.

Triet’s following features, including “Victoria,” a.k.a. “In Bed with Victoria” (2016) and “Sibyl” (2019), maintain her consistent themes and plot motifs, veering into the realm of obsessions. They all maintain a strong focus on the separations between personal and professional lives, as well as the intertwining of fiction with real life. The fascinating consistency and interconnectedness found in Triet’s work poses a baffling and intriguing sense of unity across her films.