French Tech

French Tech is a comedy set in the gig economy. Three middle-aged single parents have to stick together in the 24/7 availability world of bullshit work.

Alexandre is a stay-at-home father whose submariner wife wants a separation after he had an affair with the woman at the unemployment office where he picks up his dole money. Desperate to prove to himself to her, and having to survive without her paycheck, he goes back out into a labour market he barely understands. He blags a job at a start-up where both the job and the business remains unclear to him. It’s one of those actualising integrated solution optimization horseshitathons. Everyone’s sitting around in deckchairs or yoga balls, wearing tshirts that say Be Kind or Total Wellbeing, while no one has sick pay or paid holiday leave.

He is helped by single father Arcimboldo, whose income is patched together from a thousand different app gigs. He Ubers, upcycles shit on ebay, collects and charges courier drones, and is a stand-in for folk who want to attend protests (but maybe don’t want to have their head caved in by the cops). Together they juggle childcare responsibilities as Arci explains some of the more basic jargon to Alex.

Alexandre’s work contact is Severine, a frazzled but efficient businesswoman, who understands and negotiates the bullshit soup that is her job but hates every minute of it. Alexandre finds her intimidating, but Arci takes a liking to her. She eventually reveals she is also struggling with the same issues as the others.

The film is about how the shine of technology and the Orwellian use of bullshit language have obscured the fact that labour rights have slid back to Victorian times. In a world where we are all constantly working, there seem to be no employers. In one scene, Alex’s Uber driver almost falls asleep at the wheel, apologising that he’s been driving for 14 hours. “They don’t let you take a break?” he asks him. “I’m my own boss,” the driver retorts.

For me personally, I almost couldn’t find this funny, because it’s so accurate. A joke’s sweet spot is to be somewhat true and somewhat an exaggeration, otherwise it’s just a statement of fact or it doesn’t make sense. French Tech falls too much towards the statement of fact end of the spectrum for me. I know too many people working 2 and 3 jobs – I’ve been someone working 2 and 3 jobs – and watching this, I wasn’t so much laughing as going, “Yup. That’s what it’s like.” As traditional employment gives way more and more to the gig economy, this dystopian hellscape is going to become our standard reality.

Favourite part of this was the banjo version of Daft Punk’s Da Funk.

The Speech

Adrien is asked to give a speech at his sister’s wedding while sat round family dinner, which sends him spiralling back through his love-life in a state of existential dread. Narrated directly to camera by the main character, The Speech has the theatrical feel of a one-man play. He introduces characters by their foibles, mutes their conversation, or pauses the action. The scenery falls away or slides in as he moves from scene to scene in his memory.

In the repressed and ritualistic family dinner with his parents and sister, Adrien silently broods on the recent break in his relationship with his girlfriend, Sonia. In a family where everyone plays their parts, and the conversation is as predictable as it is repetitive, Adrien quietly cracks up over a text he sent after a month of ‘space’. To add to his stress level, his future brother-in-law asks him to give a speech at the wedding. Playing out every possible outcome, and tracing back the causes of its inevitable disaster, The Speech paints a comical portrait of a family of characters, helmed by a protagonist that is self-obsessed, neurotic, and identifiable.

Vivre Sa Vie

There is something a bit contrary in me that whenever I hear something described as a classic, I am immediately skeptical I will like it. Maybe it’s the years in school being scolded with the most tedious tomes as examples. But with Vivre Sa Vie, I was dead wrong. They say it is a perfect film, and I have no arguments. Almost unearthly beautiful, and a joy to watch.

Nana is 22 and leaves her husband and son to pursue her dream of being a movie actress. A bit self-involved, but she is awfully young. She feels she needs to give it a shot.

Because this is a black-and-white French film, she inevitably becomes a prostitute. Unable to make ends meet working in a record store, she gets lifted by the polis for trying to filch 1000 francs off a woman. With nae cash and a criminal record, she ends up staying in a neighbourhood with day hookers. There she picks up the local trade, and is in the swing of things in no time.

An aside that isn’t strictly about reviewing the movie, but it must have been gui colder in those days. All the lassies are in cardigans and wool skirts. No a body stocking between them.

One of the nicer things about Vivre Sa Vie is that it doesn’t deny Nana agency, or say that because she has wound up in sex work after the loss of her dream, she views herself as in any way a victim. Nana remains who she has been, someone sensitive to beauty and art, with a questioning, dreaming mind. She is friendly with other working girls and kind. She kinda sleepwalks into becoming a full-time hooker, not really knowing at what point she let go of ever becoming an actress. She is content merely to be making ends meet, and after her first john, she seems nonplussed by her work. She doesn’t seem to be looking to a future, seeing her work more as a means allowing her to live her life, not thinking beyond the horizon.

While Nana seems insulated by the worse elements of the sex trade, the men in the film are under no illusions what game they are playing. Her pimp insults her, instructs her to refuse no one, takes her earnings, and is indifferent to her emotional life.

The ending is abrupt and brutal. Nana’s idea of her life and that of the men around her intersect. In a way, it is good that it is so brief, as it allows the focus to remain of Nana as the main actor in her life, and her character to be centre of the tale.

Really excellent film. All the hype is justified.

My Father’s Stories

My Father’s Stories is about Emile’s childhood growing up with his manic depressive, paranoid delusional father. Set in the 60s in France, the breakaway of Algeria triggers an obsession in his father that becomes dangerous.

The film starts as kind of kiddie caper, as the pair of them play at spies for the anti-independence resistance, but quickly becomes a lot darker. Benoit Poelvoorde expertly plays the terrifyingly manic father, Andre, whose paranoia results in increasingly violent behaviour towards his wife and son. Emile’s journey goes from the youthful adventures of a father and son to the bitter realisation that his own actions and impacts on others have been warped by his father’s madness.

Emile’s mother tries to hold it together, protecting her son as much as she can, and keeping a lid on her husband’s violent extremes. Somewhere in there is the man she married and she still has loyalty to him.

Also, this is the 60s, so really, what can she do? This is before the public had any ready awareness of mental health conditions like bipolar disorder. It’s before there were ready pharmaceutical treatments. You were either normal and in society, or mad and in the loony bin. There was no sense of a continuum of mental health through mild, moderate, and severe symptoms.

Also, divorce was still rare in the 60s, as was awareness of domestic abuse or child abuse. Women’s refuges were only just being set up. For the kind of intermittent erratic violence that goes on in Emile’s home, most women would be expected to put up with it. So they were really on their own.

When Emile recruits a schoolfriend into his father’s imaginary resistance cell, the threads start to unravel. To prove the reality of his claims, Emile uses deceit and lies, realising in doing so how easily someone can be manipulated into believing something based on fabricated proof.

The whole way through the film, there’s just a little knot of dread of how this will all pan out. The relatively light beginning, where you hope that this will simply fade into Emile’s memory of childhood, gives way to multiple serious consequences that can’t help but impact the lives of the characters. You can only pray the bumpy landing back down to reality will leave everyone intact.

My Father’s Stories is a family drama about just what extremes can be hidden in plain sight.

Sisters

Sisters is a story about Zorah, who writes a play about her horrorshow of a childhood, to the dismay of the rest of her family. She claims it is an act of catharsis, but there is so much unresolved anger, it could as equally be an act of revenge.

Sisters is about inherited national trauma. The Algerian struggle for independence from France looms large in the lives of all the characters, being the genesis of all their torment. This is an intergenerational trauma, that you can see in the film being passed down from mother to daughter.

Their mother fought as a maqui in the Algerian War of Independence. Upon capture by the French, she was brutalised. Female fighters were raped, tortured and shot. Their father was in the Algerian forces that liberated the holding camp she was in, and they met and fell in love. As horrific as the violence was, for them this was still a hopeful period, fighting together, devoted to their cause and each other.

Eventually, out of necessity, they escaped to France, and made contact with the Algerian resistance there. Unfortunately their father was betrayed by his contact there. It was unclear to me if it was a literal brother or simply a brother-in-arms, but the treachery was real. Their father ended up imprisoned for 4 years.

During this period a darkness entered him, and he emerged a much more violent man. It’s like he’d lost everything. Algeria was independent, but it was not the Algeria he had fought for. He seems disillusioned with the outcome of his sacrifices, and bitter about his betrayal to the enemy. What’s worse is he is now stuck in fucking France. To compensate, he turns his home into Algerian soil, and himself into its dictator. There, everything will be as it should. He runs drills with his daughters, getting them to salute and sing the Algerian national anthem. He is determined they will not grow up to be French.

Naturally, this is impossible and only results in increasingly violent acts of domestic abuse towards them and their mother. Their mother tries to protect them, and then eventually says she will divorce him. His reaction is to hold a gun to her head in front of her daughters.

They do finally escape him, and their mother divorces him, but he abducts the two youngest kids, Norah and her brother Redah. Norah is about 6 at the time, and Redah is an infant, barely walking on his own. He takes them both back to Algeria.

Their mother absolutely loses her mind with grief, and Zorah has to step up as the eldest to reunite the family. They get a court to recognise the abduction, but it counts for nothing in Algeria, where men have complete authority over their children. Their mother attempts suicide, and is only saved because she is found by her daughter, who calls for help and tries to stem her bleeding.

A rescue attempt is made to try and get Norah and Redah back, with Zorah being sent in her mother’s place to retrieve them. However they are caught, and Zorah is only able to save Norah, leaving Redah behind.

This is all told in flashback and in scenes of Zorah’s play. Now as a 40-year-old adult, she is trying to exorcise these demons. But knowing that this will go down like a lead balloon, she has kept the fact from everyone at home. Only her daughter knows, as she has been cast as Zorah’s mother in the play.

The wound that this whole nightmare has inflicted on them is still unhealed to this day. Redah is missing, not dead, so can never be mourned, so his mother can never find peace. Her responsibility for him ends with her dying breath, and she has not given up the hope he will be found and restored to her.

“You failed,” she tells Zorah. Zorah listens placidly as she has clearly heard it a hundred times. She doesn’t argue because she doesn’t disagree. As the eldest she was as good as a parent, and when faced with her Sophie’s Choice moment of saving Norah or going back for Redah and risking them all being caught, she as good as abandoned her little brother.

As a result of this, you get the feeling Zorah has kinda abdicated her position as eldest child. Because it is the middle sister, Djamila, who acts most like the eldest sister. She’s fiercely loyal to their mother, and a high achiever. She is the chair of the local council, and pristinely put together. She feels like she’s holding it together while Zorah daydreams in her theatre, and Norah is off being a fuck-up.

Norah struggles to hold down a job or keep an apartment, she frequently lashes out, as a ball of barely contained rage. Her mental health has been impacted badly by all of this, and she blames everyone else, including their mother, for the warzone of a childhood she was given.

Norah is particularly angry at Zorah when she finds out about the play. Zorah has used performance to get distance from the pain of these events, but Norah does not have that. She tells her frankly that she doesn’t want a piece of entertainment made out of the thing that destroyed her.

About halfway through the film, they get word that their father has had a stroke. Their mother begs them to go to his bedside and ask him, as his children, where he has hidden their brother. He might want to clear his conscience in his final days.

The three sisters have to face the prospect of traveling to the land which saw so much of their childhood strife, and confront the one person who terrifies them most in the world. By turns they come together for support, and fall apart to tear at each other in anger and pain.

Allegorical for the tumultuous life of Algeria, the family’s violent and conflicted character casts a long shadow into the present. The constant tension between their status as both French and Algerian, when that has been a national battlefield, recurs again and again.

It is also a female viewpoint of war. Their mother fought for Algeria’s independence, only to have no right to her own children in it. She endures the brutality of the French in war, only to endure the brutality of her husband in her home. For women, the war never ends. There is no ceasefire. And revolutions that bring about new worlds are much like the old ones for them.

Sisters is an interesting film. A bit wooly and oddly-paced in parts, it is nonetheless compelling in its story and the portraits of its characters.

Robust

The title Robust refers to the character of its female lead as much as her physicality. Deborah Lukumuena plays Aissa, a security guard assigned to look after a famous movie star whose regular handler is on leave. The famous movie star in question is Gérard Depardieu, who plays (*checks notes*) George.

Barely a pseudonym, George is a cantankerous, aging, out of shape actor, who frequently bails on his films and rehearsals and other commitments. A BoJack Horseman of comfort eating, he rattles around in his massive home, pretty much devoid of human contact. The sole occasion where he meets someone not trying to hound him about work, it’s when gets a visitation weekend with his kid, and actually lightens up for once. He nightly takes panic attacks, which he is convinced are cardiac incidents, and phones his doctor in the middle of the night, probably just to hear a human voice.

Throwing his fragility into contrast is Aissa. She shows up, 50 years his junior, self-assured, competent, organised, and self-possessed. A wrestling champ, she is excelling as an athlete at the same time as taking pride in her work, eager to overcome the sexism in the industry to get high-profile security assignments to politicians and government officials. Where he is flighty, she is steady. Where he is mercurial, she is constant. Where he is irritable, she is patient.

Despite the age difference, she is more like a parent to him, organising his life, running his lines with him, and chiding him into behaving responsibily. And despite their differences as people, they begin to enjoy one another’s company. Gérard – I mean George – who can’t stand anyone’s company for very long without slipping out the patio doors and running away, asks her to stay longer, and makes up excuses why he needs her. She too finds that she likes this bear-like manchild, admiring the passion in his changeable moods rather than put off by them. His vulnerability and loneliness elicits from her kindness without pity, a sincere willingness to share time and herself with someone missing real connection.

The dynamic of aging white guy/young black woman in his employment is one I’ve found to be problematic in other films, but here I think it works. The power dynamic feels like it has a lot more symmetry. George needs Aissa far more than Aissa needs George, and she could easily simply ask for reassignment if she had enough of his shit. Plus, she is arguably far more the focus of the movie, showing her relationships with her family, her fuckbuddy, her supportive best friend, and her dedication to her wrestling training. Aissa has a full life.

This is not a film of obvious character arcs and dramatic declarations. It is about the subtler and more realistic interplays people have in one another’s lives. Moments of connection that anchor and comfort, whose changes might not be wholly apparent immediately.

What George gets from Aissa is pretty obvious. She stays over the night his wee boy is there, blowing off her fuckbuddy to do so, and it is the one night we see George sleep peacefully throughout. What Aissa gets from George is maybe a bit less obvious. In some ways, just their contrast solidifies her belief in herself.

The film’s dramatic climax for me is when Aissa is out on a date with her man, and George interrupts her on her night off to ask to come and pick up his spare keys from her. This is total bullshit, and he deliberately locks his keys in the house so he has an excuse to see her. He crashes her date, and sits down at their restaurant table to interrogate her man. He demands to know if he loves her, repeatedly driving for an answer after being told politely, and then less politely, to fuck off. “You don’t love her!” he accuses him. Aissa’s patience finally snaps, and she says, “I know he doesn’t love me! I just don’t want to hear it.” It’s a shitty thing to do, and a selfish thing to do, and a self-destructive thing to do in this valued friendship, but despite all that, it is also undeniably an insistence on Aissa as deserving of love. It is George’s way of demanding she be treated in a manner she is worthy of.

This is not a film about one magical summer where all a character’s flaws and defects are reversed. And for Deborah, you’d think she’d have the harder job with Aissa’s character, who starts and ends the film as the pretty self-assured person she is. But watching this film which plays up subtler kinds of changes, Deborah’ s performance is actually the strongest. You’d think it would have nowhere to go, but you just sense such a depth to the character, and percolation of ideas, whose effects will display is long, smooth waves, rather than the careening spikes of Gérard’s character.

Robust puts its two big-bodied leads front and centre, and allows their talent to carry the film. A two-handed character study, with as much dry humour as subtly played drama.

Z

A beautifully satirical political drama focusing on the assassination of a pacifist politician. With the tone of something like Doctor Strangelove, it unfortunately remains strikingly relevant today.

The film starts with the armed forces of the state sitting around talking about how to get rid of the corrupting influence of this increasingly popular politician who stands for peace and nuclear disarmament. Obviously they are not monsters, and this is a democracy, so they will graciously permit him to speak at his rally. They will just obviously ensure that he gets to experience the consequences of his actions.

What I like about this is it is not overly characaturish, while still dealing with universally recognisable tropes in the theatre of political oppression. Meaning this is no Punch and Judy show between evil baddies and noble goodies, where one lamps the other. Instead, everyone in this acts in their own interest, and are simply lined up like dominoes by the regime and allowed to fall in the way expected.

The polis don’t just blow Z’s head off like in some tinpot dictatorship, no! This is a civilised democracy after all, and the opposition must be seen to have the same chance as anyone. But if this guy loves peace so much, let’s see how much he likes it when the polis practice pacifism when the fash show up.

The trouble comes when a local magistrate doesn’t seem to understand how this works. At first in fact, he seems irked that the polis haven’t done a good enough job at covering their tracks, that he’s going to be caught out with such obvious, unignorable facts contradicting the police’s official version of events.

Added to this is a local reporter who took a chance on covering the rally rather than the swanky Bolshoi ballet event that night, and thus was one of the few on the scene for the assassination. He now feels he has an exclusive, and digs around to daily find a new angle to keep himself on the front page. Again, he is not billed as some angel of the fourth estate. He’s frequently unethical and wholly self-serving. It just so happens that on this occasion, it lines up with uncovering the truth.

Between the pair of them, they uncover an embarrassment of evidence showing police collusion and potentially instigation of the assassination, but the journey there is hilarious with subtle wit and acerbic truths.

Deeply recognisable even today. The obvious implication of, “Don’t you know how this all works?” only shows up how ludicrous it would be to the audience were they to actually bring those responsible to justice.

It’s a more than 50-year-old film, but it showed to a sold-out audience tonight that laughed uproariously at how identifiable it all was.

Good Mother

Nora is a middle-aged granny on an estate, staying in her small flat with her 20-something weans, and wee granweans. She works two jobs to keep a roof over their heads, getting up at the crack of dawn to take buses to the airport, then as a home help looking after an elderly neighbour who is more like a friend. Nora is well-respected by everyone she meets, whether it’s her co-workers at the job, or the drug-dealers on the estate, or the family of her elderly neighbour.

Contrasted to this is Nora’s daughter, Sabah, who she doesn’t get on with. Sabah has a 4-year-old daughter, and is frustrated with her inability to provide for her financially. Unemployed, over the course of the film she tries to train as a dominatrix, but finds it difficult to hold on to even that. Where Nora is forbearing, Sabah is full of complaints. Where Nora takes any job, even two, Sabah reviles the low-paid jobs, relying either on sex work or benefits. Where Nora meets with respect from everyone, Sabah is treated like dirt by everyone, including her mother.

It really hurt me to see Nora’s interaction with Sabah. Nora has one son in the jail, another lying sleeping in his bed while she cleans and cooks after working two jobs. To them she is nothing but a font of patience and praise. When her daughter leaves the granwean alone in the next room while she takes a shower, Nora talks to her like a piece of shit, reduces her to tears, and effectively tells her she’s a bad mother who puts her kid’s life at risk.

When Nora’s son needs money to pay his lawyer, she pawns all her jewellery down to her wedding ring. When Sabah comes home and hands over nearly half the amount due from her earnings, Nora’s first word is, “Is this money haram?” No “Thanks”. No “Cheers hen, that’s guid of you.” No, only suspicion and insinuation she’s done something wrong.

Sabah’s not likeable like Nora, because she’s not a martyr like Nora, but my heart just broke for her. Where’s her support? Jesus, they’re both single mums, how about a bit of solidarity?

Good Mother asks what is a good mum? Does it have to be about living as a paragon of work and sacrifice? Or is Sabah prioritisation of finding a way to provide for her daughter financially enough?

This film is carried on the excellent performances of the cast, every one of which are great, but especially those within the central family unit. I wondered if they all hung out between shoots, because they really felt like a family. Talking over one another, slagging each other off. The family dinners are just full of warmth and chatter, and the 4-year-old gives such a natural performance, you think she must have felt very comfortable and at home.

Good Mother is about the pillars who hold up society and the family. They are nameless and invisible and go largely unsung, but their contribution is most treasured by those they touch.

A Tale of Love and Desire

There is a stereotype that the British view the French as over-sexed. So far in the French Film Festival I’m realising that is not a stereotype. The Comparative Literature lecturer in this hands out the course text of poetry and tells the class to really “savour the eroticism”. You do that in Glasgow, the whole class would cut up laughing and make a dick-sucking gesture behind your back the entire year.

A Tale of Love and Desire follows two lovers Ahmed and Farah, as they negotiate the complexities of sex and relationships in today’s France. Farah is a Tunisian student who’s come to study in Paris, and is eager to see all this new world can offer, and cut loose and enjoy the uni experience. Nervous virgin Ahmed is here to make sure it’s a real bummer.

Ahmed is from a working class neighbourhood and feels like a fish out of water at the Sorbonne. He barely speaks, can hardly look anyone in the eye, and struggles to relax or make friends. Then he spies Farah.

To Farah, Ahmed is French. She came to France for the French experience, you know, smooth talking, poetry whispering, wine-quaffing, romantic shaggers. Ahmed is none of that. He’s awkward, inarticulate, emotionally crippled, sexually repressed, and painfully shy to the point of paranoia. He acts like Tunisia is some back of beyond, but Farah is freer, more sexually experienced, more confident and happier in her own skin.

Ahmed’s parents are Algerian, but he doesn’t speak Arabic or even know much about that part of his heritage. Class is a much more defining part of his identity in relation to folk at uni. He doesn’t even seem to consider himself particularly religious, but he is heavily invested in the sense of propriety he was raised with. Which is a happy coincidence if you’re an anxious virgin.

To Farah, Ahmed seems more conservative and parochial than the middle-class Tunisian culture she grew up in back home. She finds him blowing hot and cold very frustrating, as you would, and feels judged and shamed whenever she reaches out for him. In all honesty, Ahmed manages to have all the hallmarks of a fuckboy without the fuck.

But I’m being a little harsh. Ahmed is 18. All his mates are other guys, who in typical toxic masculinity fashion, talk up a good game about women, then can barely interact with them. They swing between desire for sexual accessibility and controlling, shaming, and repressing women who are. You know, the usual patriarchy standards.

It doesn’t exactly equip you to deal with first love, or your first time, or living in a very sexually-charged French culture. This is one of those love stories where the only obstacle two lovers have is themselves.

While I still think Ahmed acts like a twat in this, I do get his fear of sex in a world where it has become so much of commodity, a chit in social standing, a matter for the public record. It’s not even about sex not being about love, it’s about sex not even being about sex. It’s about ego, and using the body of another for validation, and as a status symbol. Even if sex were just about sex, it would still retain respect, intimacy, privacy, and eroticism. But we all know of that dead-eyed fucking, that fucking where it’s like you’re trying to stab yourself. In a world where people are used as objects, sex is reduced to a transaction of social currency, and ceases to be, in a word, sexy.

Ahmed loves Farah but doesn’t know how to tell her what he wants. When he wants to touch her, he pulls away if she responds. If she initiates, he shuts down. When she offers to go slow, it comes to a grinding halt. And Ahmed is as frustrated as anybody at his own inability to respond correctly, or illicit the response he wants, or to know in the least bit what the fuck he’s doing.

In a hypersexualised culture, to negotiate love and desire remains as enigmatic as the world of the centuries-old poets they read.

Playground

Playground is a film about a brother and sister surviving primary school. The opening scene is of Nora’s first day, being reassured by her big brother Abel, and torn away from her father.

I just watched this and was like, yup, that’s what it’s like. The synopsis of this film will say it’s about bullying, but it’s not, it’s about the way the world is, the way people are. I remember talking to some lassies at uni about primary school stuff, and getting annoyed when they gasped, “Were you bullied?” No, that’s just life.

If anything, Nora is in a far nicer school than I remember it being. All the teachers are sympathetic and patient, and genuinely concerned by her silences. I watched the movie thinking, Where’s this school? Where the teachers have the time deal with every playground fight, and get to the bottom of exactly what’s behind it? Where they have the patience to sit and comfort children until they’re ready to talk, and give a fuck?

The teachers I think are paragons so as to be a non-issue, and keep all the focus on the world of children, or the world of people as it’s also known. Again, and I think I’ve said this before in another review, I hate how we treat children and their problems as though they’re separate and different from the world we live in. We talk about bullying and use it almost solely in the context of school, but all it is is assholes. People are arseholes, and when you are legally obliged to show up to the same institution every day with the same arseholes, it makes you miserable. How do you adjudicate for that? How do you administer that?

We talk about children’s bullying because their issues look small to us, their interactions seem trivial. But once they are out the peri dish of school and into the wider world, the same dynamics take hold, the same struggles and the same miseries, and they get writ large as huge social problems. Nora and Abel’s problem is that social groups have a pecking order, and it’s dangerous to be at the bottom of that order. That’s it.

My other great annoyance is when adults act like all problems are solvable when the people experiencing them are children. They’re not. If bullying was a petty children’s issue that was resolved by telling a teacher, it wouldn’t exist, it would have been resolved. If we knew how to fix this problem, it wouldn’t be a problem in every classroom, in every school, generation after generation.

Nora and Abel are on their own to try and find a way to exist in this world, safely and happily. And if they don’t, it’ll be decades before they’re free of this system. You can only hope, with what lies ahead of them, that they have each other.