On The Adamant is a one-of-a-kind Day Centre: it is a floating building. Built on the Seine, in the heart of Paris, it welcomes adults suffering from mental disorders, offering them a framework of care that structures them in time and space, helps them to reconnect with the world, to find a little ‘momentum.
The team that animates it is one of those who try to resist as much as they can the decay and dehumanization of psychiatry. This film invites us to board it to meet the patients and caregivers who invent their daily life day after day.
A great French documentary filmmaker, Nicolas Philibert continues his gesture initiated with his previous feature film, Every Moment (2018), where he looked at the hospital world, and more precisely these nursing students, probing all these vocations essential to the hospital life.
On the Adamant is different, and very surprising, to leave these walls, to create a unique treatment space, on the Seine. Like a Frederick Wiseman, Philibert begins his film with a first shot showing the opening of the site, its mechanical shutters orchestrating the first notes of a long day devoted to workshops for a very particular “day hospital “.
The patients who will follow one another in front of the camera, whether in a group or one-on-one with the filmmaker, are patients from the psychiatric world, in a rather incredible variety of profiles.
If the structure of the film is based on a very classic staging, portraits which follow one another without any obvious link, the force and the “generating fact” of cinema is presented in the form of this place which never ceases to surprise with each new scene. .
This collage of vignettes illustrates the heterogeneity of psychiatry, each character presenting a different pathology and above all, a way of confronting the disease which is specific to him. The author takes the time to let the situation settle in so that something emerges, each story taking its root in this unique space of freedom.
The device is attractive, in that it does not present the people: it is their words that make the film, without a voice-over or any incrustation spoiling this fascinating ensemble.
As so often in documentaries, beauty springs from surprise, from that unforeseen moment when something happens. Who is a patient, who is a psychiatrist? It doesn’t matter, even if the question arises in the shot, with this wonderful scene where a person offers to lead a dance workshop “to share something of themselves”.
This moment informs both about the work methodology of the caregivers of this place, but also about the vitality that animates it. More than a day hospital, this floating structure is like a self-managed city where everything is decided in community, everyone deciding on the agendas, the management of the bar, their cash register, and any subject that seems important to discuss together. . The film reflects this modus operandi, allowing itself a freedom of tone and form that allows the project to blend into that of the Adamant.
It is obvious, however, that this type of very disjointed structure and perhaps also the brevity of the film, less than two hours, do not allow us to better understand all the facets of this territory. We only catch a glimpse of some of the “inhabitants” of the boat and we remain somewhat beside the “sap” of their history, at the doorstep of what could have allowed this film to be even greater – to join there again the figure of Wiseman, who is the reference for these river stories that look at a place, dissecting it with such precision that it becomes familiar, almost intimate to us.
This will not be the case with Sur l’Adamant, but despite everything the trip remains very positive, constituting an experience that imprints fantastic stories, like that of this man who is at the same time designer, musician and Theo van Gogh look-alike, according to his own words.
FILM ON THE ADAMANT
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