Self-destruction to exist
Brais Romero Suárez
But, tell me, just what is it that you want to do?
The Wild Angels
For younger generations, cinema has always been a medium to vent their frustration. Perhaps one of the most iconic scenes in capturing this feeling is when Heavenly Blues of the Wild Angels confronts the priest who is officiating their friend’s funeral, after he asks the Angels just what is it that they want to do with their lives. This sequence was engraved in the retina and the memory of audiences as a wake-up call to understand new generations. However, more than thirty years separate this film from the generation we are talking about now, the millennial generation. And it is quite evident that the paradigms established then cannot define what is happening right now.
To begin to describe the universe created by filmmakers Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel, it is necessary to start by underlining the importance of digital. The internet is no longer a means of communication, but an aesthetic way of seeing things. Virtual scenarios where we can download stories that only occur in the minds of our protagonists, places where everything is modifiable and adaptable by the user. In Martin pleure we see how the protagonist channels his breakup within the universe of Grand Theft Auto V, resulting in an emotional breakdown that goes from driving at high speed to crashing into trees and spiralling into arbitrary violence against children. The same is true of Notre amour est assez puissant, where sequences of a mass shooting are accompanied by a voice speaking about love. Here there is no difference between the speaker and the images because the speaker lives in this reality. In digital, video games —in this case—are more real than physical reality itself, thus allowing us to channel our emotions.
Emotions that, on the other hand, are more violent now than they were before. If there is one thing that stands out in Poggi and Vinel's films, it is the use of violence in a transversal and central way in all their work. From the small pyromaniac stories for children in Toys on Fire, through the winged rapture of Chiens, to the dystopian universe of Jessica Forever, violence is a way of understanding life and conceiving relationships. A violence that, on the other hand, does not manifest itself as a decontextualized or psychotic impulse, but as a response to our parents’ legacy. This is very explicitly reflected in Notre heritage, where Lucas, the son of the pornographer Pierre Woodman, invites his friend Anais to spend a few days with him, taking advantage of the fact that the house is empty.
Perhaps it is partially our parents’ legacy that generates this violence within us, this need to set fire to everything in our path in order to rebuild something new out of the ashes. Or maybe that is what makes this a nihilistic generation. Marked by constant crises, economic as well as sentimental, the world of adults seems so far away that all concerns are as superficial as possible... at least in appearance. Films like Bébé colère, although dressed up in a childish aesthetic, only reflect a detachment from a world that we neither want nor asked to be part of. A dysfunctional world in which all we want is acceptance, to feel part of something bigger… whatever that may be.
To enter Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel's universe is to accept entering one’s own... if you belong to this generation, that is: the millennial generation. It means understanding that what you are watching is a projection of your darkest thoughts, a re-enactment of episodes you would rather have forgotten, a catharsis to understand that you are not alone. If you are not part of this generation, there are only two options: either you can accept it and try to understand, or the door is open for you to leave... It is not necessary. It is not necessary. You can keep trying to blame us for all the evils in the world, but you are the one to blame. We didn't ask to be here, but you insisted on bringing us into this world. We are the result of all of you, and that is why we want to do away with ourselves.