1923. Georges, a WWI hero who has fled his past, has spent four years as a nomadic adventurer in Africa. He decides to return to France where his mother and brother Marcel — a war invalid who has retreated into a world of silence after the horrors of the trenches — live. Georges struggles to find his place in a world where life has continued without him. When he meets his brother’s sign language teacher Hélène, he manages to come to terms with his own past and finally attempts to heal his family’s wounds, and his own.
In his first feature film director Emmanuel Courcol convincingly manages a realistic reconstruction of the psychological and physical horrors of the First World War. Inspired by the experiences of his own grandfather, Courcol retells the aftermath through the life of a family touched by the horrors and sacrifices of the war. As much an adventure film as a family drama, Ceasefire successfully paints a portrait of France after WWI and explores the national mood in the early 1920s.
The film, partly set in Africa, also looks at France’s colonial past in an authentic and realistic way. The sequences shot here — without ever falling into the trap of ‘colonial romantic kitsch’ — add space and dimension to the story that closely focuses on the traumatised psyche of the family. Romain Duris (also in Mrs. Hyde) gives a powerful performance in the role of Georges; strong, obstinate and defiant, he breathes life into the tormented character.