Cavale is the French word for lam. It is also the title of a Belgium coming-of-age road trip movie. Teenager Kathy (Lisa Viance), against her wishes, is taken to a mental health facility some miles away from Luxemburg. Kathy is able to escape, and going on the lam with her are Nabila (Yamina Zaghouani) and Carole (Noa Pellizari), both of whom long to escape the dreary, controlling ways of the medical professionals there, she escapes. Kathy is convinced that if she can just see her dad, who is a doctor, he can help get her out of there.
Along the way, the trio of girls meets a parade of fanciful personalities, including a group of camp loving hippies, Michel (Pierre Nisse), an odd but understanding young adult who drives like a maniac, and a kindly neighbor. But, when Kathy gets to her dad’s place, things do not go how she hoped they might. At a loss for what to do, Kathy ups the ante in a very real way, but as they say, the truth will set her free.
“Kathy is able to escape, and going on the lam with her are Nabila and Carole…”
Before we get into the review proper of Cavale, I want to conduct an experiment. For this, we shall be excluding the most famous definition of insanity (“doing the exact thing over and over, expecting different results”). Now, I want you to close your eyes and think of what being mentally unstable means to you.
Now, I guarantee that a stranger, in some other place, is reading this at the exact time as you had a different definition pop into their head. This gray area of what constitutes crazy is crucial to the film’s success. Director Virginie Gourmel and screenwriter Micha Wald are careful never to judge the three main characters. In fact, Cavale stresses how these young people just want to live a normal life despite whatever their issues might be.
After going swimming in a pond, Kathy, Nabila, and Carole lounge in the sun. They discuss what growing up was like for them and how freeing it is to do what they want at this moment. It humanizes them, which means when they do act out because of their mental health problems, it breaks the viewer’s heart.