Written by Tamerlie Philippe
Louise by the Shore is an animated movie by Jean-François Laguionie. Filled with warm colours and beautiful imagery, it takes place on a fictional island and follows the life of an elderly woman who tries to survive on her own.
Louise first appears on the shore of Gillen Sur Mer, sitting by herself. We see her observe her surroundings and write down her thoughts in her diary. On that same afternoon, she misses the last train to the city and is left alone in the recently deserted island.
Following high tides and a tumultuous night, Louise attempts without success to go back home. She then decides to stay by the sea. The old woman manages to build a makeshift and very practical house. While hoping for “them” to come back, she creates a daily routine, living off fish and oysters. Several months pass and a new year comes. The lonely woman becomes stronger and healthier. She explores the small island and dreams of a lively town. One day, when exploring a deeper part of Gillen Sur Mer, she is followed by a talking dog, who soon becomes her companion. We later see them get closer with each day that passes.
The animation often revisits Louise’s past. She dreams of her youth, family and friendships. We watch her questions her actions as a young girl and struggles to remember events that have long been forgotten.
Jean-François Laguionie shows how age is a number and not an obstacle. Moreover, it’s simultaneously simple and complex. There is not much to tell about the story. Solitude, monologues, and dream sequences sum up for the most part Louise by the Shore. Ultimately, it depicts a strong parallel with the real world. Everyone is alone at one point or another in this life.