Still courtesy of TIFF.
At Ellen’s Age
The story of the titular German flight attendant (Jeanne Balibar) who begins to question the routine of her life a little late (but not too late), Pia Marais’ At Ellen’s Age presents the wonders, terrors, and often harsh realities of ditching your middle-class partner, middle-income career, and careening down a new life path, no matter what your age. (Certainly, Ellen herself seems to be in her early thirties, though her world-weariness makes her at times seem much older, and her flashes of naivete sometimes makes her appear no older than a child.)
After finding out that her sometimes-boyfriend (Georg Friedrich) has impregnated another woman, and witnessing a confrontation between animal rights activists and nameless militiamen in Africa while her plane is grounded, Ellen decides to abandon her post, which results in her being fired from the airline she has worked at for ten years, and sets her down a zigzagging road to maturity. She soon falls in with an unmarked van-load of animal rights activists, and half-heartedly joins their anti-capitalist ranks as a pamphleteer and courier of liberated lab monkeys.
Balibar offers an exquisite performance as Ellen, even if her willingness to relinquish herself to the universe’s whims seems at times dubious. Still, At Ellen’s Age is like a far less smug Up in the Air—a coming-of-middle-age film that exhibits a refreshingly un-snarky posture towards radical politics.
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