Gaëlle (Agathe Bonitzer), has been locked up for years in her kidnapper's cellar. Though he doesn't appear to be sexually abusing her, he does beat her and sometimes tie her up.
In contrast, Vincent (Reda Kateb) also attempts to educate her, shares meals with her, takes her for walks in the forest and does his best to provide medical care.
She seems to develop a fondness for him, though she frequently slaps him and says she'll never love him. In a weird, warped way, they seem to care deeply about one another. One day when she is nearly an adult, he finally allows her to leave. And leave, she does.
Upon her return home, she is sent immediately to therapy, which also makes her feel like somewhat of a prisoner.
Her parents love her and were desperate to get her back, but once she's home they have no idea how to treat her. The same is true for her childhood friends—especially one who witnessed her kidnapping. He doesn't know why he felt the need to come and visit her, shares this with her and promptly leaves.
As if it wasn't hard enough losing your childhood.
Frédéric Videau's film is a psychological exploration of what happens in an authentic way between a prisoner and their captor. How human nature shapes one's feelings and emotions to cope with whatever is placed in one's path.
Agathe Bonitzer plays the lead role with the right mix of angst and fragility; Reda Kateb makes Vincent less a monster than we'd expect.
All in all a great film to spark debate about the complexities of such a relationship.
COMING HOME will screen at the 38th Annual Seattle International Film Festival. For tickets, visit the SIFF website.
Labels: Agathe Bonitzer, Coming Home, drama, France, kidnapping, Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF, Stockholm Syndrome, Tassoula