I AM A SOLDIER / Je suis un soldat


West Coast Premiere • Drama • France, 2015

DCP • 1.85 • Dolby 5.1 • Color • 96 min

Directed by: Laurent Larivière

Written by: François Decodts, Laurent Larivière

Cinematography: David Chizalet

Film Editing: Marie-Pierre Frappier

Original Score: Martin Wheeler

Produced by: Dominique Besnehard (Mon Voisin Productions)

Cast: Louise Bourgoin (Sandrine), Jean-Hugues Anglade (Henri), Anne Benoît (Martine)

International Sales: Le Pacte • le-pacte.com


If you were thinking a willowy leading actress and a lot of cute puppies mean you’re in for a schmaltz fest, think again. I am a Soldier is a hard-hitting drama about a woman compromised by the financial pressures of France’s economic austerity. In a thoughtful, subdued performance, Louise Bourgoin plays Sandrine, a 30-year-old who, after a failed attempt to succeed in Paris, is forced to retreat to Roubaix and the working-class life she’d hoped to escape. Disengaged from the world, she takes a job working at her Uncle Henri’s dog-breeding kennel. Everyone in her immediate circle has money issues, except Henri, and as she soon finds out, that’s because he’s operating an illegal puppy mill. Puppies are smuggled in from Eastern Europe, purchased by weight like meat; the unsold stock disposed of with little more concern. In desperate times money trumps morality and Sandrine stays with it, long enough to discover she has a knack for business. Intoxicated by finding her first real talent in life, Sandrine turns a blind eye to the dark side of the actual business she’s in.

This year, COLCOA’s Focus on a Producer is dedicated to Dominique Besnehard, who brings us this debut feature from writer/director Laurent Larivière. Shown in competition at the 2015 Cannes’ Un Certain Regard sidebar, Larivière brings together the stylistic approach and techniques he’s honed over the course making a handful of acclaimed shorts such as Lightning Struck Me (2006), and Les larmes (2010). Narrative restraint, naturalistic performances, and economic dialogue all bring to mind his chief influences:  American James Gray and Belgium’s Dardenne brothers. Parallel to his filmmaking career, Larivière creates films that are part of the stage design for theater and performance pieces. It was at one of his shows that he met and befriended actress Louise Bourgoin (The Girl from Monaco – COLCOA 2009, Love Lasts Three Years – COLCOA 2012.) He wrote the part of Sandrine with Bourgoin in mind, though she was unaware of that when she first read the screenplay. This is also the first feature credit for co-writer François Decodts. He has recently collaborated on a new feature script for Heat Wave (2011) director Jean-Jacques Jauffret.



“…genuine and suspenseful.”

– Neal Dhand, PopOptiq

“…benefits from a tightly wound plot line and a select amount of settings.”

– Piers McCarthy, Live For Films