“Sibyl” (2019) Review: A Film That Blurs the Line Between Reality and Fiction

‘Sibyl’ exudes desire and pushes the boundaries of trust…and kinda goes off the rails…

So if you didn’t know already, streamer Mubi spotlights a “Film of the Day” (thank me later 😉) and recently picked Justine Triet’s 2019 French psychodrama “Sibyl” which was an interesting watch. The film stars Virginie Efira (who I first came across not too long ago in the French dramedy “Victoria,” in which she plays somewhat of a similar character but not quite as tragic…and that film was also written and directed by Triet) as a therapist and former writer who decides to dive back into writing another novel and uses her newest patient as the basis of her story. New patient, Margot (played by Adéle Exarchopoulos, who I remember from her standout performance in 2013’s “Blue is the Warmest Color”) is an actress who finds herself in quite the predicament in a love triangle with her co-star (Gaspard Ulliel) and the director of her latest film (Sandra Hüller).

Gaspard Ulliel, Adele Exarchopoulos and Sandra Huller

As Sibyl tries to counsel Margot, the lines between Sibyl’s reality (and past) and Margot’s life start to blur, as well as the boundaries of Sibyl’s professionalism as she inserts her more and more into the situation. Through flashbacks we begin to see the demons that Sibyl has been fighting as a recovering alcoholic and someone who was in a similar situation as Margot years before with Gabriel (Niels Schneider). As this twisty psychodrama starts to unravel, the film does go off the rails a little as Sibyl quickly looses her grip on reality, but not enough to make the film unwatchable. The film plays with your minds and makes you wonder if maybe this is all just a masterclass in manipulation — in this battle between the sexes, who is the master manipulator, Margot or Igor?

Niels Schneider and Virginie Efira

What really holds this film together is the performances by the talented cast (and its a cast that is just sex appeal personified, so you can definitely see how one could get wrapped up in this world) — they really commit although there were certain scenes where you’re just confused by the motivations of the characters (but that’s more of an issue with the storyline/script than the performances). All of the performances are raw and electric, but it is Hüller who steals the show as the director who is trying to hold it all together and be the strong and understanding girlfriend while her career is being jeopardized and her trust is betrayed at every turn. In the end, the film is about dealing with our demons and past, relationships and the hold/effect that people can have over us and those who are hurt in the process have to deal with the aftermath of our choices.

“Sibyl” is currently streaming on Mubi.