Review: Keep Going

Redemption and new beginnings in contemporary Western

By Lois Maskiell

In the dry and mountainous Kyrgyzstan countryside, a desperate mother takes her troubled son on a horseback journey. Her reasons for the trip are initially unknown, but slowly and purposefully director Joachim Lafosse invites us into their histories and into a web of trauma, redemption and new beginnings.

Keep Going (Continuer)
premieres in Australia as part of the 30th Alliance Française French Film Festival after its nomination for best film at Venice International Film Festival in 2018. Making a strong addition to Lafosse’s steadily growing filmography (Our Love, The White Knights, Our Children), this tightly knit two-hander allows the Belgian director-screenwriter to flex his skills in adaptation as it is based on Laurent Mauvignier’s French-language book of the same title.

Prompted by the death of Samuel’s (Kacey Mottet Klein) grandfather, Sybille (Virginie Efira) takes her son on a cross-country trek with high hopes. Absent throughout Samuel’s childhood, she has returned to find her teenage son drifting. He has had violent run-ins with school staff and risks being sentenced to a correctional facility.

Desperate to pierce through Samuel’s anger and build a connection, Sybille forges through the stark countryside and her son’s wild temperament. Kacey Mottet Klein (Sister, Being 17) plays the conflicted Samuel impressively, balancing fury and desire for love in a captivating and convincing performance.

The stunning location captured by the skilled hand of cinematographer Jean-François Hensgens is featured in an abundance of extreme long shots. The union of expansive landscapes and bouts of silence in the dialogue creates a lean sensory experience allowing the psychological events between Sybille and Samuel to strike harder.

The soundtrack choices sometimes worked, particularly the scene where Samuel is found dancing on top of a mountain to a thumping EDM song, but the more emotional tracks seemed to force sentimentality rather than allow the plot and acting to do the heavy lifting.

Joachim Lafosse successfully depicts the complex bond between a mother and son who seek hope in their lives. Sophisticated in its simplicity, moving its psychology, Keep Going (Continuer) captivates and surprises.

Keep Going (Continuer) screens 5 March – 10 April at selected Palace Cinemas across Australia as part of the 30th Alliance Française French Film Festival. Tickets can be purchased online.