Alice Diop’s latest documentary captures life in the Paris suburbs, meandering between characters, vignettes, and geographies of the city with inquisitiveness but without interrogation. The wildlife-watching children and grandparents, mechanic on the phone with his family, dancing youths, care workers checking up on their elderly charges, and adolescent boy preparing for his hunt are connected only by the many sides of the place they live.

Nous (We) revels in human connection and holds interest despite this non-narrative approach through its fly-on-the-wall style. Conversations between characters or voiceovers of internal musings are often off-screen, telling a story as the camera takes in the everyday scenes of life – even if this is just a beautifully wallpapered hallway. Sometimes, these voiceovers are then supported by home video footage of deceased parents or grown children, highlighting the most personal changes and foundations of their community. Perhaps the most striking use of this voiceover explores the Holocaust Museum, highlighting generations lost from Paris today. “Avenge me,” one letter reads – and Nous broadcasts that call.

If there are themes, they are class and age. It is almost jarring to see the crowd of hunters mounting up, dogs baying, after spending time previously with lowkey park gatherings and manual occupations, throwing the city’s diversity and income differences into sharp relief while never showing one side as having less joy in life. Likewise, the way older and younger subjects socialise – some just during home visits, some sat outside with friends, some digitally – showcases the importance of these various connections.

Nous proves that simplicity in subjects, a broad canvas, and minimal interference in the lives of its subjects – sometimes down to not revealing their names – can be just as engaging as a detail-oriented, narrower gaze. Diop’s confidence in her approach marks her as one of the finest documentarians working today.  

RATING: 4/5


INFORMATION

DIRECTOR: Alice Diop

WRITER: Alice Diop

SYNOPSIS: Modern Parisian life – especially as seen in its rural, urban, and residential suburbs – are the subject of this narrative-free documentary.

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