Cinema Review: Sibyl | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021  


Studio: Music Box Films
Directed by Justine Triet

Sep 10, 2020 Web Exclusive
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Justine Triet’s delicious drama about a therapist and her tricky patient/ doctor relationship with a young actor is a delightful tonic.

We all want trust in our lives. We want to trust and be trusted. But we also want what is best for ourselves. Therapist Sibyl (Virginie Efira) wants to be a novelist. It has been a dream on pause for some time now (as we’re made aware in frequent flashbacks) and she must cut ties with some of her clients in order to pursue her ambition fully. Her own therapist, her husband and a particularly distressed patient all see this as a betrayal of her responsibilities as a doctor, potentially severing some of the trust she has built with her patients.

She does, however, continue her work as a shrink with a couple of patients. One, a young, monopoly-playing boy who lost his mother in an accident; an obvious case difficult for Sibyl to part ways with. The other patient is actor Margot Vasilis (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a young woman who trusts deeply in Sibyl, and for Sibyl, it’s a trust that does wonders for her ego. Sibyl’s ego isn’t the only thing that’s titilated by Margot’s reliance on her therapist, it’s her imagination too. During the course of Sibyl’s sessions with Margot the budding novelist records the sessions, drawing inspiration from the troubled actor’s personal life. As Sibyl extracts the juicy gossip of an abusive boyfriend, the drama of a film set and the life changing decision of an abortion Marogot gives her not only fascinating material but a new sense of vulnerability and reliance on her doctor.

As Sibyl weighs up the significance of how she’s handling Margot’s mental health, she reflects on substantial issues in her own life, past and present. These primarily concern the broken, once fiery relationship with the father of her daughter (seen through sharply edited flashbacks) and her ongoing battle with alcoholism. This conflict between being a guide for others and the difficulty she has controlling the unstable elements of her own life lead to a crisis of purpose for Sibyl.

After a breakdown on set, Sibyl is needed in order to aid Margot through the completion of the film. Margot’s boyfriend and co-star Igor (Gaspard Ulliel) and director Mika (Sandra Hüller) add to and are frustrated by Margot’s mental health emergency. After getting in too deep with Margot’s personal affairs and exploiting her turmoil Sibyl has to become an on-set crutch for Margot and, somehow, for the rest of the cast and crew. This is where Sibyl takes a turn from intriguing drama to a charming—and slightly preposterous—comedy. Though Sibyl may be in a literal sense a comic psychodrama, it’s hard to understate just how amusingly frivolous the film becomes once the fate of the film becomes more reliant on Sibyl (a scene on a boat offers up one of the funniest and most difficult to endure scenes I’ve seen all year).

Sibyl is a film aware of it’s own moods and atmospheres. Triet knows exactly when to play it funny, when to play it sexy and when to enact dramatic sincerity that genuinely gets to the film’s central quandary. Efira’s performance is a fluid display of all out comedy that can switch to touching, troubled soul with seamless ease. This is a film that is asking questions, asking what it is that makes it so difficult to be an adult responsible for not only yourself and your relationships but for all of the people with whom we have an affect on. All we want is to trust and be trusted but it’s imperative that we trust ourselves.


Author rating: 7.5/10

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