Ursula Meier, France, Belgium, Switzerland, 2022o
After a violent argument with her mother, Margaret, a 35-year-old choleric woman, is given a restraining order: She must stay at least 100 meters away from her mother's house, where her twenty-year-younger half-sister also lives and where her next-younger sister regularly visits with her husband and baby. The separated sister reacts in her own way to the measures: every day she lines up just at the blue line that the youngest sister has drawn around the house. Further conflicts between Margaret and her mother are thus programmed; soon the whole family is caught up in the war of nerves.
Since her fabulous debut film Home, in which a family perseveres against all reason in their house on the highway, Geneva director Ursula Meier has repeatedly confronted us with characters whose neuroses take on bizarre forms. La ligne continues this series of burden-bearers with the story of a long since grown-up, but childishly thuggish daughter who assaults her mother during an argument and is henceforth not allowed to come within 100 meters of the parental home, including her youngest sister. With his usual narrative consistency, Meier pursues the logic of irreconcilability in this outwardly domesticated conflict, once again creating images that burn themselves in. While the daughter initially appears as a fury, it becomes clear in the course of the plot that her mother, embodied by the notorious bundle of nerves Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, is not inferior to her in terms of egomaniacal eccentricity. For all their cinematic force, the two characters don't make it easy to stick with this destructive borderline story. By far the most grown-up of the Valais family's bestiary turns out to be the adolescent daughter, who courageously and imaginatively shuttles between the fronts.Andreas Furler