Macadam Stories

asphalte

Film directed by Samuel Benchetrit;  the original French title is “Asphalte”, while the Italian is ” Il condominio dei cuori infranti” ( “ The Broken Hearts Condo” – but it is not
a romantic sentimental comedy)

The story is inspired by the director’s collection of short stories, “Les Chroniques de l’Asphalte”, 2005 , accounts of solitude and alienation, set in a French grim banlieue which looks like a desolate no man’s land .

All the characters live, in varying degrees of desperation, in a semi abandoned apartment house, where they forge unexpected friendships

One of the building’s diverse tenants is the clumsy and depressed man who, in the opening scene,  refuses to contribute financially to the installation of a  new elevator since he resides on the first floor. The others agree, but he won’t be allowed to use the new lift. Anyway, when he finds himself partially handicapped after an exhausting bike workout , he realizes he needs it. But he can take it only when nobody is there. It is at night that he ventures out, looking for food, on his wheelchair and gets to know a nurse who does the night shift, to whom he says he’s a photographer.

Upstairs there is Charly a teenage boy whose parents are permanently absent. When an actress of the ’80s in depressive crisis moves next door, he helps her with impromptu locksmithing. But in the end he is also able to convince her that it’s time for her to take on a new role, the one of a woman much older than she sees herself.

In the third segment, an American astronaut lands his capsule on the roof of the building and knocks at the door of a kind Algerian lady whose son is in prison and whose dull life is for some days brightened by the presence of that spacesuit-wearing stranger. While the cosmonaut is waiting for the NASA to retrieve him, the two bond, despite the language barrier: he repairs the sink, she makes him couscous, and, while they are sitting in front of the TV, he reveals details from an old soap opera that the woman likes watching

We notice that each character is gradually transformed by the arrival of someone special in their lives, rescued from solitude and despair. We see an unexpected feeling of solidarity among those who fall. And the six are joined by a fall: from the sky, from a wheelchair, from a pedestal..

Now they can start to rise

 

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