With a ponderous and imaginative structure, ‘Hold Me Tight (Serre moi fort)’ wanders through dark waters of memories and loss, wondering about what life could’ve been. Mathieu Amalric creates an immersive and melodramatic work about the trauma caused by grief, as the film shows Clarisse, a woman who we think abandoned her husband and children trying to deal with their absence. Later we learn that that’s not what happened. While she thinks about what their life would be like, Clarisse knows that the future are the moments she didn’t get to share. She tries to comfort herself by not thinking about what happened, but more about what would come later.
Amalric’s direction may be on the nose and heavy handed, but he knows how to deal with the ponderous aspect of the narrative, working in total symphony with the editing that mixes the past and the present with Clarisse’s concepts of future while never feeling overstuffed. He sets the perfect tone for the story with this dreamy direction that makes us believe in the stories that Clarisse tells us, and the score is also an essential part of that. Working as the connections between the timelines and the human bonds, the score changes as Lucie (Clarisse’s daughter) grows up, bringing maturity interposed to the childhood memories that build the story. The technical aspects of the film are so well put together that it’s hard to not be fully immersed in the world Amalric is showing to us.
Vicky Krieps, who keeps proving herself as one of the most exciting actresses working today, gives the best performance of her career as Clarisse. She weighs the unbearable pain of losing your family as the character goes to several stages of grief and, thanks to her, every moment feels honest and raw. Everyone who has dealt with loss knows what she is feeling and how well tuned her work is. It’s a masterclass of acting and one of the most beautiful gifts given by cinema in the last year.
The film hits all the emotional notes, creating one of the most beautiful and melancholic sequences of the year as we see Clarisse facing what happened while their memories get destroyed. Grief is always going to be miserable, but Amalric decides that it can also be beautiful and emphatic, and he creates a heart-shattering film about the memories that we carry with us. Clarisse will never know how their lives would turn out to be, but as she transforms grief into a memory that doesn’t feel out of reach, she is able to move on.