Un Monde (2021) captures the anxiety of childhood


Seven-year old, anxious child Nora is entering grade school along with her brother. She notices her brother gets picked on and alerts teachers and her father. This creates larger complications that outcast her and her brother.


Un Monde (2021) is an immersive view into the cruelty and inner politics of the school playground. A space that should be safe for all students but in reality is a hellscape that certain children can’t escape from. The subjective nature of Director Laura Wandel’s approach puts us in the headspace of Nora (Maya Vanderbeque). The first-person, close-up style makes us consider the world from her eyes. Nora’s the sweetest, most thoughtful person imaginable that cares far more for her brother than to worry about her own situation. Even when Abel (Günter Duret), her brother, isolates her through his failure to fight back against the immense bullying, she’s still worried about him at her core. And she’s willing to break the unspoken rule of childhood by involving adults. It’s a heartfelt exploration of a place where adults can’t reach and where children don’t speak. A place separate from adulthood that tests a child’s ability to exist in the world. Maya Vanderbeque is a wonderful vessel to experience this journey as she’s so empathetic in her expression and manner. It’s a complex performance that shows a tiny girl wise beyond her years.


  • First person subjective perspective from the opening shot and I’m already emotionally invested in this girl’s story
    • The loud ambience cuts to silent classroom, capturing the angst of this social situation
  • The perspective and framing of this girl reminds me so much of Son of Saul. We don’t see around her or behind her, only her perspective. Interesting creative choice for this story.
  • Man, I relate to this so much. The overwhelming feeling is captured in the sound design and hectic cinematography.
  • The depth of focus makes Nora the only thing in focus at all times. It’s the most subjective of subjective framing to give a sense of realism
  • The Bully talks to the teacher with utter disregard.
  • The performances are outstanding so far, capturing the overcomplications of school life and having to deal with all that comes with it. Including a ruthless streak of bullying and the failure to deal with it. Nora’s expressions are so helpless but yearning to help her brother. Her brother is closed off to everything around him and treats the misery as nothing. Nora’s sadness is captured so thoroughly and her helplessness is so heartfelt and real.
    • The lunchroom scenes are absolutely brutal, hard watches.
  • The fact that the camera never even looks at other characters and the dialogue comes from outside the frame puts us deeply into the headspace of Nora. It makes these kids faceless monsters displaying horrific cruelty. The weight of this ever worsening situation is captured in her soft eyes. As she starts to get bullied, all her thoughts move towards her brother. She’s written to be extremely empathetic
    • Even as her teacher helps her after a scrape of the knee, her brother is locked in a trash can, ignored by the world. It’s rough.
  • Trigger warning on this film. It has an insatiable hunger to swallow these helpless children whole and force them to adhere to the structure of the bully victim dynamic. It’s disheartening to say the least and it feels as if grownup have no bearing on this world
  • Without knowing a plot synopsis, the film is guiding the story to a really dark place where something will be forced to happen. It’s what the film language is hinting towards and there’s dread in the air
  • The perspective driven framing device and performance of Nora is perfect for this story. Can’t say it enough.
    • The script understands that kids don’t have any inkling of inner turmoil happening in the lives of others, so while Nora is dealing with the pain from her brother she’s ignoring her pain.
  • The look of utter sadness in Abel’s eyes when Nora denies him as her brother broke my heart in two. My god, this film is trying to kill me
  • The relationship between Nora and her teacher is an important one and adds layers to this story. The idea that there are compassionate people out there attempting to help while not always knowing how to help.
    • “Sometimes we don’t know how to help”
  • An hour into the film and we finally break perspective for the sibling school picture after the two have been feuding with one another. Interesting time to break that continuity and give us an objective viewpoint on Nora and Abel
  • Abel turning into the bully and Nora’s compassion towards Israel is endearing. She’s a beautiful soul and her limit of bullshit is inspiring. She challenges the way of bullying and the estrangement it causes amongst students. It’s ingrained inside of her and captured in the performance
  • Ending: cut to black before credits hit a few seconds later. Abel attempting to muder Ismael is an absurd close to this story. It’s a hectic moment but highlights the love Nora has for her brother despite it all. But the ending also lands a bit flat as if the film doesn’t have anything concrete to say about the cruelty. It feels vaguely neo-realist but the form its captured in is far too subjective. I’ll need to sit with this ending and see if anything more substantial comes to mind. Fascinating film both thematically and structurally – don’t think it all works but most of it does.
  • Maya Vanderbeque is stunning in this film, delivering a highly nuanced performance. It’s the subtlety with her ability to play with expression conveying contradictory emotions towards her brother, teacher and her father.

Review: ★★★½

Verdict: not weird


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