The 20th century is over and the class wars also seem to be over, or at lease gone through a gradual but radical transformation. Communism may be dead in its Soviet variance, but the unions fights seem to have brought some results in Southern France where the action of ‘Les neiges de Kilimandjaro’ takes place in what concerns salaries, work conditions, pensions, retirement benefits. Even licensing is now done in agreement between employers and unions, sometimes by means of raffles. Michel, the hero of the film is a union leader, close but still before retirement age who is fired as the result of such a raffle. Yet the social safety net should avoid him a financial crash, and the family net extends the moral support. Michel, his family, his friends look more like an established bourgeois clan than like typical harbor proletarians. The family and friends even gather enough money to send the couple to a safari trip in Africa. All this until a violent robbery deprives them not only of the present, but also breaks into pieces the balance of their apparently accomplished lives, making them to face the realities of a world that does not always know, understand or care about the path and fights they went through in order to achieve the relative balance and happiness ati the older age.




The story line told in a very classical linear manner focuses on the price people need to play to justify their happiness. It is not only about having worked and fought to achieve something, but also caring about the realities around. When the intrusion of violence risks to break the dream of their quite bourgeois retirement the response of the couple could also have been violence and rejection of the ignorance of the younger generations. The path taken by the script is however different, Michel and his wife Marie Claire will find in the goodness of their own selves the power to regain the true balance. The story does not avoid the risks of the melodrama, and the fact that it succeeds not to fall into cheapness is especially the result of good acting and low key directing.


(video source FilmsActu)


Director Robert Guediguian works with the same team of actors for quite a while, and this is felt in the natural way the actors move, act, interact. Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Ariane Ascaride are both wonderful, they carry the whole film on their shoulders and make real to the viewers two characters who in many other movies could have looked as too good to be real. Even the ideological lines drawn from texts by Victor Hugo or Jean Jaures are are well controlled and do not appear as too thick and obvious. Thanks to the directing style and fine acting ‘Les neiges du Kilimandjaro’ has a human touch and is a better film than it could have been.