Director Joachim Lafosse returns to the themes of his previous films with the psychological western KEEP GOING
A mother-son journey into the high country turns into a treacherous psychological trek in Joachim Lafosse’s latest feature KEEP GOING.
Based on the novel by Laurent Mauvignier, KEEP GOING follows 30-something mom Sybille (Virginie Efira) and her adult son Samuel (Kacey Mottet-Klein) as they trek into the unknown expanses of Kyrgyzstan. The challenging trip is supposed to be an opportunity for the estranged pair to reconnect but what initially seems a simple journey soon turns into something darker.
Returning to the themes of his previous films, director Joachim Lafosse delivers claustrophobic and tense two-hander with KEEP GOING. Sybille and Samuel may be two humans alone in the wilderness, but they can’t escape themselves. It’s clear from the outset that the atmosphere between the pair is tense, Lafosse drip feeding us just enough details to question whether this mother-child adventure is the right or wrong thing.
Belgian actress Virginie Efira is excellent here as the petite-but-tough Sybille, a woman caught between her independence nature and her desire to be a good mother. But the real star of the show is 19-year-old Mottet-Klein who is riveting as Samuel, the erratic loner prefers the company of his horse to that of any other person.
Yet just when things seem to be edging toward a powerful finale, Lafosse ends the film rather abruptly. After slowing building the hostility and tension between the two characters, their turbulent relationship comes to a head when they reach an encampment of riders on the other side of the country, yet the following dramatic sequence that follows flies by so quickly that it barely leaves time for Efira and Mottet-Klein to credibly react.
Lafosse’s leisurely pace may also frustrate some viewers, the director providing very little in the way of a backstory at the start of the film and offering no real conclusion at the end. Clocking in at only 84 minutes, it feels like there’s something missing here and Lafosse could certainly afford a few more breaths.
That said, this is a visually magnificent piece with cinematographer Jean-Francois Hensgens making excellent use of the sprawling landscapes to chronicle the cross-country voyage in rugged physical detail. The film, which doesn’t rely on many words or explanations, owes much to the landscape in which it is set, Lafosse occasionally breaking away from the beautiful surroundings to close in on the pair’s sun-beaten faces.
KEEP GOING screens at the BFI London Film Festival on 14 October 2018.
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.