In “Honey cigar”, a revelation named Zoé Adjani

(AFP) – It is all the shots of the first feature film by Kamir Aïnouz, “Honey Cigar”, in theaters Wednesday: Zoe Adjani illuminates this film with her talent as an actress, prompting connections with her aunt Isabelle.

The young actress, born in 1999 and whose features match those of her famous relative, is bluffing natural in this drama anchored in 1993 in Paris where she plays Selma, 17, from a rich family of Neuilly-sur-Seine which integrates a business school in the capital.

As the electrified gazes of the boys fall on her and her desire for emancipation burns, the young woman of Berber origin is confronted with the weight of traditions which are exercised in family intimacy.

Torn between her imperious desire to regain control of her life and that of not denying her cultural origins, Selma embarks on a quest for identity that will lead her to the mountains of Kabylia, where her Algerian family lives.

For her second role in the cinema after “Cerise” (2015), by Jérôme Enrico, Zoé Adjani explains that she recognized herself in this character with “the fighting spirit” to whom all the material means are given to be accomplished, but whose he only obsession is to free her body and her life as a woman.

And this, at a time when in the country of origin of his parents, loving but carrying a cultural heritage at the antipodes of his aspirations, the violence of the civil war crystallized.

“There is a real resemblance in the research of femininity and the learning of the body, but also of identity, origins and family ties sometimes chiseled by a war or a language”, explained Zoé Adjani at the last festival. des Arcs (Savoie), where the film was scheduled.

“I discovered Kabylia, with which I have a rather secret, strong and intimate link, through the film, which was as much my initiatory journey as that of Selma”.

– Embodied sensuality –

A subtle sensuality infuses this feature film where the body is scrutinized. For the actress, it is first of all “a game” necessary for women to define their “own spheres”.

“It is a fundamental expression of the spirit of a woman and it is something that Zoe expresses in a very fine way. It is important not to do too much and that it is embodied in a natural way because it is natural. “, underlines Kamir Aïnouz.

The Franco-Algerian director, who sees sensuality as “the number one weapon of emancipation” for women, explains that she relied on the “skin-deep” interpretation of her actress to “make you feel the interiority” of his character.

“Zoe has appropriated this role with a lot of sensitivity and understood it in her flesh. I could read it on her face”, details the filmmaker, who has endeavored to establish a relationship of trust with her actress allowing her “to break down all the barriers” and to seek in it “a finesse on the edge of the razor”.

“We agreed on how I was going to stage his body. We were able to explore a lot of things that were necessary for this role,” says Kamir Aïnouz.

Thanks to the character of Amira Casar, who plays the mother of the teenager, “Honey Cigar” also draws an intergenerational picture of women confronted with patriarchal traditions which are deployed both in their bourgeois family environment and outside. , and in particular in the codified universe of business schools.

“These diktats are not clearly identified because they are deeply rooted in culture and education,” says Zoe Adjani.