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“Flo”: an invigorating portrait of Florence Arthaud, a struggling and tortured navigator


We leave the session with salty hair, with a furious desire for reckless adventures at the ends of the earth. By retracing the life of Florence Arthaud, from her first teenage races in the Mediterranean in the 1970s, on the family boat, the Zoubidauntil the miraculous rescue, off the coast of Cape Corsica, in 2011, Floby Géraldine Danon, blows an invigorating wind.

This is undoubtedly due to the chiaroscuro personality of the navigator, both light and combative, strong-hearted and independent, chic and rude, knowing how to go from high standing to roughness. From the upper middle class – house with a view of the Eiffel Tower, Paris 16e –, the daughter of Jacques Arthaud, director of the Arthaud publishing house, which published the stories of Bernard Moitessier and Eric Tabarly, quickly freed herself from family demands. At 18, after the car accident that almost cost him his life, Flo (irresistible Stéphane Caillard) leaves for Newport (United States) to find a plane to cross the Atlantic…

The first feature film by Géraldine Danon, daughter of producer Raymond Danon (who worked alongside Claude Sautet, Bertrand Tavernier, Joseph Losey in the 1970s) and close to the sailor, perfectly fulfills its role as a popular film. The task of the biopic was nevertheless arduous. Not only did we all have our idea of ​​”the little bride of the Atlantic”, who was also a media figure in the 1990s, but her premature death in a helicopter crash on the set of a game show , in 2015, is still present in our memories.

Read the portrait: Florence Arthaud, ocean tamer

In this context, we are grateful to the director for not having pulled the string of feminism by tacking on an ocean of political negotiations. Like its protagonist, who has never been an activist, the film embodies the struggle of women by focusing on the maritime effort in a man’s world. In particular the victory of the Route du rhum in 1990.

Clearness of the technical gesture

Beyond the pleasure of rediscovering a whole section of French navigation – Olivier de Kersauson, Eugène Riguidel, Alain Gabbay or Jean-Claude Parisis – we must salute the care taken in filming the regatta scenes at sea. Author of marine documentaries , Géraldine Danon did not give in to the quiet joys of filming in a pond and confronted the natural environment. Assisted by Philippe Poupon (her companion) and Philippe Monnet, two sea dogs, also close to Arthaud, the director ensured the clarity and elegance of the technical gesture. Ultimately, the film delivers an ultra-mobile choreography on the decks, in the sails, at the top of the masts… And, something rare enough to be noted, the team brought Arthaud’s boat back from the Philippines on the Route du rhum, namely the first fully carbon trimaran in the history of shipbuilding, Peter-1erhere renamed Flo.

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