“The Crusade”, a smiling tale for times of disaster

Reading time: 2 min

A couple of bourgeois Parisians stripped by their own son of a dozen years, this is the starting point of this family comedy with tonalities very unique. Joseph sold his mum’s chic dresses (Laetitia Casta) and daddy’s ridiculously expensive watches (Louis Garrel). Mom and Dad may be modern, open, cool parents, but they’re not happy. Not at all.

But Joseph ignores it. It is because he has a plan, a secret, ambitious plan, as urgent as it is difficult to implement. And he is not the only one.

Thus begins this smiling and lively adventure, which has the immense merit of seeking, and most often of finding a light tone to speak of the most serious of current problems, of the most commonly shared, but too often to dismiss or marginalize it: tragedy environmental in the process of wiping out thousands of species and threatening all forms of life on the surface of the Earth.

The title of course evokes the historic Children’s Crusade , and it is, here too, children who are mobilized to fundamentally transform behavior and modify the situation climatic .

A few months before Greta

Jean-Claude Carrière had suggested it to Louis Garrel a few months before Greta Thunberg come and embody this peaceful insurrection of a younger generation less blind and less hypocritical than the older ones. In the film, the children don’t just protest, they take action.

The parents (Louis Garrel and Laetitia Casta) confronted with the consequences of their son’s engagement. | Ad Vitam

The Crusade connects the adventures which mix the adventures of teenagers, swerves towards the tale and the fantastic, and more realistic moments of alert as to the proximity of threats that the Covid has been responsible for, since the filming of the film, make perfectly believable.

With a good dose of self-mockery towards the one he interprets on the screen and also of what he is a known figure, and with a form of respectful affection for the youngest characters, Louis Garrel finds for his third feature film as director the right tone, that of a stylistic modesty which reinforces the relevance of his proposal.

Other paths

This bias towards small form, brevity (1h 06), the wink and the refusal of any emphasis will easily pass The crusade for a minor work. On the contrary, it is bad to see that it daringly explores other paths than the militant pamphlet or the catastrophist prophecy.

Of these systems of narrative today dominant on climate issues, we see all too well the limits with regard to the ability to mobilize, or simply to change minds and behaviors at all.

It is necessary, even vital, to find other thing, other ways of telling and showing. Without pushing the collar or claiming to have found a magic formula, this cheerful fable about a sinister reality is thus exemplary of what a scenario writer is likely to try, in and with a world which is his, and that

Jean-Michel Frodo’s cinema reviews are to be found in the program “Affinités culturelle” by Tewfik Hakem, Saturday from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. on France Culture.

La Croisade

by Louis Garrel, with Joseph Engel, Laetitia Casta, Louis Garrel


Duration: 1h

Released on 19 December 2021