Puzzle of a Downfall Child + Presentation by Elisabeth Bouchaud

Lou 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 who started his career by working with her and is now famous, comes to visit.

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

She has lived on her perfect image, but this image has fragmented. These fragments are like the pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle that the movie puts back in their place, shedding halftone light on the enigma of Lou’s life, her success, her fall and her strange relationship to men. Still, many pieces are missing…

Elisabeth Bouchaud is a senior researcher at Ecole Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielle de Paris. Her field is the fracture of materials. She has graduated both from Ecole Centrale Paris and from a drama school, and obtained her PhD in physics from Orsay University. She is also an actress, and a playwright and in 2014 became the director of a theatre in Paris, La Reine Blanche, and made it a stage for arts and sciences.  In 2017 she adapted Puzzle of a Downfall Child for the stage. Her fascination for the story relates to her own research – she has spent nearly all her scientific life trying to understand cracks. Which flaws are they born from? How do they propagate? At what speed? How does catastrophic failure occur? Can it be retarded? In order to answer these questions, she has looked at images of cracks while they are growing, or images of broken pieces after failure. In them, she has looked for shapes, for similarities and for differences which could be clues to how things break.

Date & Time

18th September 2018


Barbican Centre
Cinema 2