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Puzzle of a Downfall Child (15*) + presentation by Elisabeth Bouchaud

Science on Screen

Still from Puzzle of a Downfall Child

Lou (Faye Dunaway) is an ex-top model who found refuge in a remote island, somewhere in New Jersey, far from the fashion world she once knew. Aaron, a photographer from her past, comes to visit.

Lou is no longer a perfect image printed on glazed paper. For a while, she maintains a composed appearance. The intimate conversations with her old friend reveal the cracks within her, little by little, as if her portrait were a silver photograph slowly developing to exhibit her deep scars. 

She has lived off her perfect image, but it's fragmented. These fragments are like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle the film puts back into place, shedding light on the enigma of her life and strange relationship to men. Still, many pieces are missing…


'I have spent nearly all my scientific life trying to understand cracks. Which flaws are they born from? How do they propagate? At what speed? How does catastrophic failure occur? In order to answer these questions, I have looked at images of cracks while they are growing, or images of broken pieces after failure. In them, I have looked for shapes, for similarities and for differences which could be clues to how things break.' Elisabeth Bouchaud

US 1970 Dir Jerry Schatzberg 105 min

Elisabeth Bouchaud is a senior researcher at École Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielle de Paris. Her field is the fracture of materials. She has graduated both from École Centrale Paris and from a drama school, and obtained her PhD in physics from Orsay University. She is also an actress, and a playwright. In 2017, she adapted Puzzle of a Downfall Child for the stage. In 2014, she became the director of a theatre in Paris, La Reine Blanche, and made it a stage for arts and sciences.

Content warning: This work alludes to sexual abuse with scenes that some viewers may find upsetting.

This film is F-Rated. The F-Rating is a classification for any film which is directed by a woman, and/or written by a woman.

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Barbican Cinema 2