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MAGNETIC BEATS (2021, FRA) – 7/10


In order not to think too much about the time period in which he set the action of his debut feature film, Vincent Mael Cardona immediately takes us to the election night of 1981 in the opening scene. A group of young people in a local cafe in a small town in Brittany, France, are happily celebrating the victory of the socialist Francois Mitterand, and among them are the brothers Philippe (Thimotee Robart) and Jerome (Joseph Olivennes). They are radio amateurs, and while the rebellious older Jerome is the typical alpha male and the voice of an illegal radio station from the attic of their house, the younger, just-of-age, withdrawn, quiet and self-effacing Philippe is a DJ, technician and outstanding self-taught sound engineer who experiments and mixes sounds brilliantly .

On their night radio station, they play the then popular darkwave, punk, Joy Division, Stooges, The Sonics and similar avant-garde French bands unknown to me at the time. They enjoy going out at night, spending time, and both live with their strict father, a car mechanic, in whose workshop they help. Jerome goes out with the hairdresser Marianne (Marie Colomb), who arrived there from Paris for a one-year internship, and the younger and more sensitive Philippe will fall in love with his brother’s girlfriend. Those seemingly carefree days for Philippe will be interrupted by a call for military service, and when he fails to avoid conscription by faking mental problems, he will end up in Berlin for a year no less, no more.

And just before leaving for Germany in a completely new, unknown world for him, Marianne will give him a cassette with compilations and a message at the end, which will only make it harder for the young dreamer to adapt to life in the army. Nevertheless, life in divided Berlin will prove to be a revelation for Philippe, but he will constantly yearn for home and Marianne, even though during his military service he will manage to make his way to the radio station of the British army where he will be able to show what he knows. It was “Les magnetiques” and a more than solid coming of age, stylized and nostalgic drama with a good soundtrack composed of music from that time.