Every Little Thing

(La Moindre des choses). Like Frederick Wiseman's Titicut Follies, Nicolas Philibert's Every Little Thing is an observational film about the lives of patients and staff in a mental asylum. But there the similarity ends. Philibert's film about La Borde's psychiatric clinic is much like the warm, breezy summer days in the French countryside where he shoots. Without ever denying where he is, he celebrates the existence of this innovative asylum (in the true sense of the word, a peaceful shelter), sensitively depicts intimate details of the patients' lives, and displays the power of art (theater) to at least partially heal. The fact that it's not always possible to tell the patients from the staff, and that the particular Operetta (by the Polish-Argentine modernist Witold Gombrowicz) performed in 1995 is itself “absurdist,” only adds to the complexity and fun of it all-for the performers, the audience of the play, and the spectators of the film alike. “The lines are completely illogical,” one patient exclaims. “That consoles me.”

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