150 Milligrams (La Fille de Brest) Review. The story about a fight against pharmaceutical industry

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“It is not about commitment but complicity”

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By Sandra M. Ríos (@sandritamrios)

150 Milligrams (La Fille de Brest) opened the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2016, a portrait about tireless fight of a doctor to demonstrate the harmful effects of a drug.

The film is an adaptation directed by French Emmanuelle Bercot based on a true story and successful case against all odds. It was the first time a female filmmaker opened the prestigious Spanish film fest.

Bercot, who also cowrote the story, based on the book “Mediator 150 mg: How Many Dead?” published by pulmonologist Irène Franchon, where she told the details about her fight for French health authorities recognised the collateral damage caused for some Mediator components, a drug that was prescribed to lose weight specially to diabetic patients and women who after the pregnant felt out-out-shape. It is calculated more than three hundred thousand patients took this medicine during its time of production between 1997 and 2009 by pharmaceutical Servier. The adverse effects caused the death to 500 people related cardiopulmonary problems, besides other 2,500 patients with other diseases.

In 150 Milligrams that doctor is starred Danish actress Sidse Knudsen, who from a hospital from the small city of Brest discovers the direct relation between Mediator and a series of strange deaths. Decided to stop its production and prove before control authorities, she stars a journey to convince, first, to partners and the same institution where she works to help her in order to fight before one of the most important pharmaceutical companies in Europe.

With a thriller tone essentially; many short shots and musical bits typical of this genre, Bercot emphasises the hard process of this little group of doctors, led by Irène Franchon, who should run to get an investigation to prove with real numbers all the cases detected. They are in front of an unbreakable wall of corporation that are willing to do what is necessary do not lose money and credibility and lack of ethics and rigour of government entities. At the end, their idea is to cover up all mistakes before recognizing in public the fatal damage caused to human health and avoid high monetary compensations.

Bercot gives to this female character many elements to become a heroine of flesh and blood; she is a professional and married woman, a mother who despite of having to a sector of her community against her and family occupations, gets always to keep under control  and thanks to her strong character, she could to resist almost ten years of process.

The main character keeps in a high level all the time, so it is difficult to believe her sometimes. In the same way, the structure of the film is lighter than it should be, with some evident situations, with no real climax and with more minutes than necessary (more than 2 hours of running time). Despite of that, Bercot to buoy the film up for the same wish to show the world this amazing true story, the obstinacy of a woman to change something that was working really bad in the system.

The director dedicated this movie to his father who was a surgeon in Paris. Bercot makes a great use of visual effects to recreate with too much realism and details surgical operations and an autopsy.

Cast & Crew

  • Director: Emmanuelle Bercot
  • Screenplay: Emmanuelle Bercot, Séverine Bosschem, Irène Franchon, Romain Compingt
  • Genre: Drama, Biopic
  • Running Time: 128 minutos
  • Cast: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Benoit Magimel, Charlotte laemmel, Isabelle De Hrtogh, Lara Neumann, Philippe Ucha, Patrick Ligardes, Olivier Pasquier, Gustave Kervern, Pablo Pauly
  • Cinematography: Guillaume Schiffman
  • Edition: Julen Leloup
  • Music: martin Wheeler, Bloum
  • Design of production: Philippe Delest
  • Sound: Pierre André, Jérome Chenevoy, Séverin Fabriau, Stéphane Thiebaut
  • Country: Francia
  • Year: 2016

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