TAJ MAHAL is the second feature film from director Nicolas Saada, after Spy(s) in 2009. He discusses here the terrorist attacks islamic contact information in several places in Bombay on the 26, 27 and 28 November 2008, including the Taj Mahal hotel. Conscious of the resonance of the post-attacks in paris last November 13th, it was held, with the producer and the distributor of the film, to maintain the date of departure, encouraging “the film to open the dialogue and to look at the world as it is”. And frankly, we think they have done well.

The developer has offered the fine role of Louise, Stacy Martin, recently found in The Lady in the car with glasses and a gun and revealed by Nymphomaniac. Thanks to his masterful interpretation in TAJ MAHAL, it is also in the list of Revelations of Caesar 2016.

TAJ MAHAL, it is a film about the gaze. Nicolas Saada has chosen to make the young Louise, a photographer in the making. The vision she has of India, a country of dense, exuberant and hyperactive, into which she immerses herself little by little is very well put in value through the camera to the shoulder of the director, which brings us closer to the inhabitants of Bombay. Louise observes, says little. “Let me look” she said to her mother. His watchful eye will find during the attack and the taking of hostages at the hotel the fair distance between what she saw, what she hears, what she senses and what she feels.

The story of the filmmaker is, in fact, nothing to show terrorists or persons injured or killed. Sa’ada has deliberately chosen to leave us with Louise on one side, and with his parents, on the other, with the only link between the two a mobile phone that Louise had bought a few days earlier. In fact, the film shall, in addition to the view, two other senses of the heroine : the hearing, and to a lesser extent, the sense of smell. And this choice is rather smart. Because every emotion felt by Louise, will resonate differently with the audience. One will be afraid of the noise and explosion of kalashnikov rifle, another one will be scared by the screams of the victims when the last will be frozen by the fire and the smoke. The director invites our fears a little too exhaustive, coated by a ultra music anxiety-provoking.

The emotional roller coaster that crosses the young girl are quite realistic, as well as the process of physical transformation in the face of absolute horror. The misunderstanding, the call to the assistance of its parents, the waiting, the fear, the doubt, the hope, the audacity, the courage, the letting go and the abatement are as well an echo of his trembling, his sweat, his tears and pleas. We work alongside Louise, we are Louise, as much as we hear his breathing, his breath and sometimes the sound of his heart. The bet of the empathy felt towards this girl is so successful, despite the scene a little bit long from the fire to the hotel, during which Louise reassures another client Giovanna/Alba Rohrwacher (Virgin mary under oath).

“The many levels of reading make TAJ MAHAL a film powerful and moving, we are painting a portrait of a young girl and her family whose lives will be disrupted by an attack.”

TAJ MAHAL is also a film about a family, a couple and their two daughters (her sister was in Paris). A middle-class family, the director has not bothered to appoint, reinforcing the idea of leaving them at the door of this story, as a parallel with what they are going to live on the outside of the hotel. Because only the hostages of the camera will have a name.

The father of Louise, is Louis-Do de Lencquesaing (Francophonia, the Louvre under the occupation) that puts all his energy to interpret with brio his father, a remote, busy, down-to-earth. His only marks of affection and physical exchanges are intended to the mother of Louise, whose cold british is embodied with accuracy by Gina McKee (Jimmy P). These parents do not appear from the outset to be very friendly, or concerned by their daughter. They force themselves out a little, but you can see that they are two before three. Louise, excluded from their relationship, also forges his gaze, looking to the back.

The director has managed the tour de force to share their reactions to intimate and their own evolution in response to their daughter during this dramatic event, especially the father, whose shell will gradually crack. It will be an unfailing support for his advice to his daughter, even if this occasionally decide, by instinct of survival, do not always follow them.

Finally, TAJ MAHAL is a film about the after-trauma. Because Nicolas Saada does not abandon us after the rescue of Louise. We accompany Louise in the management of this post. And it is in this that the film resonates precisely with the victims of the attacks of Paris : how do we resume the course of its life when it touched so close to death and we had to be so afraid ? The answer is simple, you can’t. Some decide not to speak when others, like Louise, like to be able to share with those who have lived the same experience. Because sharing the pain in these extreme conditions inevitably creates links unexpected.

The many levels of reading make TAJ MAHAL a film powerful and moving, we are painting a portrait of a young girl and her family whose lives will be disrupted in many ways by this attack. Louise will lose its innocence, become suddenly adult and his view of the world will obviously be affected in a definitive manner.



Original title : Taj Mahal

Production : Nicolas Saada

Screenplay : Nicolas Saada

Key players : Stacy Martin, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Gina McKee

Country of origin : France

Output : 2 December 2015

Duration : 1h31min

Distributor : Bac Films Distribution

Synopsis : Louise was eighteen years old when her father must go to Bombay for his work. While waiting to move into a house, the family is first seated in a suite in the Taj Mahal Palace. One evening, while her parents eat their dinner in the city, Louise, remained alone in her room, hears strange noises in the corridors of the hotel. It includes at the end of a few minutes that this is a terrorist attack. Only link with the outside, his phone enables him to stay in contact with his father who is desperately trying to join in the city plunged into chaos.

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