Mia Hansen-Løve has recently emerged as a major director on the international scene with a set of empathic dramas. In her films, characters process sea changes in their lives with a patience and even-handedness absent from other works about similarly momentous life events. Hansen-Løve understands that most people’s lives move in inches, not miles. She knows how to glean significant insights about human response under duress by analyzing these small yet meaningful moments.

With the possible exception of Eden, her decades-spanning tale of a Llewyn Davis-like also-ran in the French garage music scene, Hansen-Løve’s Maya represents her most sprawling and weighty canvas to date. The film follows France journalist Gabriel Dahan (Roman Kolinka) after his release from Syrian captivity and his gradual drift back towards some semblance of normalcy. While Hansen-Løve avoids homecoming or PTSD clichés in charting Gabriel’s convalescence, she does stumble into a few other tropes of (particularly Western male) recovery once he leaves Europe behind.

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