Review: Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre’s ‘Zero Fucks Given’

Zero Fucks Given Review - 2021 Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre Movie Film

Vague Visages’ Zero Fucks Given review contains minor spoilers. Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre’s 2021 movie stars Adèle Exarchopoulos, Alexandre Perrier and Mara Taquin. Check out the VV home page for more film reviews, along with cast/character summaries, streaming guides and complete soundtrack song listings.


The last few years left many of us feeling bitter and emotionally devastated, due to the sudden disappearance of acquaintances, friends and loved ones. No goodbyes, no proper funerals — just abrupt story endings with no punctuation. Casual yet curious international streamers undoubtedly found solace in emotive art house films; movies that previously might’ve felt unwatchable given the IMDb loglines. Some people turned to Shudder’s Host, a Zoom-themed horror flick that provided timely entertainment and inventive thrills in the summer of 2020. Now, in 2023, on-screen depictions of real-time trauma continue to evolve in television and cinema as filmmakers explore the various ways that humans react to death in the digital age, evidenced further by last night’s Succession season 4 episode, “Connor’s Wedding.” Zero Fucks Given (Rien à foutre), which released at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, similarly takes a less-is-more approach with its study of a young person’s struggle to accept a family member’s sudden death.

Zero Fucks Given wonders whether it’s better to crash and burn or to die slowly. Cassandre Wassels (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a Belgian flight attendant for a low-cost airline in Lanzarote, seems intent on drinking her pain away. She finds trouble at work because of boozy breath and questionable in-flight behavior. Cassandre dreams of glamorous international traveling but doesn’t necessarily want a promotion, at least until she’s given an ultimatum: shape up or find another job. Much like Succession’s Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin), Cassandre’s posturing hides a tremendous amount of internal stress, the result of her inability to process a familial tragedy.

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Zero Fucks Given Review - 2021 Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre Movie Film

“There is no past, there is no future,” says a female executive in No Fucks Given. It’s this type of jarring advice that at once plagues Cassandre’s mind while informing viewers about airline industry realities. The protagonist’s father, Jean (Alexandre Perrier), even describes her as a “stewardess plus more.” Lecoustre and Marre, in collaboration with Mariette Désert, imbue their script with a series of metaphorical wake-up calls and hazy exterior montages. Cassandre returns home to a familiar setting but might as well be floating in the clouds. As the filmmakers explore the definition of the word “attachment,” a subplot about shared trauma emerges and thus broadens the film’s global appeal.

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Zero Fucks Given Review - 2021 Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre Movie Film

Jeremy Carr made a sharp observation in March 2017 when assessing the rhythmic elements of a 1961 French New Wave classic: “Like his characters, Demy’s camera in ‘Lola’ moves everywhere but goes nowhere; it’s a paradoxically headlong hesitation.” Cassandre of Zero Fucks Given is similarly on-the-go yet still static. She’s not a lost millennial, but rather someone trying to process a devastating one-two punch. And Exarchopoulos most definitely sells what it feels like to be stunned after getting rocked by life, as seen in a telling first-half training sequence in which her character tries to hold a smile (an important part of the job). Elsewhere, the actress focuses on Cassandre’s sexuality, whether she’s posing naked for selfies or trying to cover up personal insecurities with faux confidence. Exarchopoulos continues to be a daring and transcendent performer; she is expensive in the best way possible. It would be nice to see the French actress in one of Apple’s glossy international series like Extrapolations or Liaison.

Lecoustre and Marre, with all their ethereal exterior visuals, touch upon the importance of spirituality during a time of crisis — the need to connect. For some, cinema is a religion, one that has nothing to do with escapism. It’s more about that beautiful crash and burn, that rollercoaster of laughs and tears. For such believers, Cassandre will feel like a kindred spirit. She can only feel truly alive by identifying the source of her pain and keeping it within reach. That’s normal. That’s human. That’s good for the soul.

Zero Fucks Given is currently available to stream on Mubi.

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Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.