Cannes 2023: All to Play For (Rien à perdre)

Directed by: Delphine Deloget
Distributed by: TBA

Written by Taylor Baker


Virginie Efira stars in “All to Play For” a slice of life film depicting a single mother raising two boys on a low income. Efira’s Sylvie works at a local restaurant, and sometimes due to her schedule she has to leave her two sons home alone. The film opens on a pulled back but frenetic look at her eldest son and youngest son going to a hospital after the youngest suffers from burns while cooking. The sequence involves lively framing and handheld cinematography establishing a clear and specific hand by first time director Delphine Deloget.

The boys trip to the hospital leads to government services becoming involved in the family, and a decision is made to remove her youngest son from her care, due to the protocols for the severity of burn he’d gotten. The film then transitions into a pseudo-recovery piece, with its subject Efira trying to become who the court will approve of so the government will agree to give her back her son. Or in short to become someone that she’s not. After losing her job at the restaurant her estranged brother helps her get a white collar socially acceptable job with work hours the court will approve of at a local telecommunications company.

The film never gazes too far from its subjects, though it does try and focus more on the psychology of its main three characters (Efira’s Sylvie and her two sons) the longer the film goes on. Though the performances are each convincing in their limited scope, and the films social critique plays out in a somewhat effective way, it is mired in its efforts to convince the audience of its own social complexity. It sets up sequences and provides exposition where it would have been just as or perhaps more effective without such setups. Despite these hangups “All to Play For” is an engaging moral play that examines the place of the state in the family home, and whether leaving your own country is sometimes the only way you can keep your family.

“All to Play For” Clip

“All to Play For” was screened as part of the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

You can follow more of Taylor’s thoughts on film on LetterboxdTwitter, and Rotten Tomatoes.

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