‘The Braid’: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Kim Raver featured in Laetitia Colombani’s powerful adaptation of her novel

“We live in a very unfair world, so unfair towards women. But I do hope it’s going to change,” Colombani said

Laetitia Colombani, having spent 15 years in the film industry before venturing into novel writing with “The Braid,” never envisioned a film adaptation. However, the on-screen version, featuring Grey’s Anatomy star Kim Raver, Mia Maelzer, and Fotinì Peluso, is now playing in select theatres. The film intricately intertwines the tales of three women from Canada, India, and Italy into a compelling and intimate narrative.

Colombani’s inspiration for the novel stemmed from a desire for a new experience beyond her film career. Travelling and engaging with women worldwide, she was deeply moved by their life experiences. Wanting to capture the diverse struggles faced by women from different cultures and continents, she chose the novel format for its creative freedom.

Anticipating that the novel’s themes, including an “untouchable” woman in India, a young Italian worker dealing with a workshop’s bankruptcy, and a Canadian woman confronting breast cancer, might limit its cinematic appeal due to their potentially dark nature, Colombani was undeterred. She prioritized telling a profoundly personal and intimate story over broad commercial success.

Upon the novel’s global success, translated into 40 languages and selling over five million copies, Colombani discovered the universal resonance of these women’s stories. The film adaptation now brings these powerful narratives to the big screen.

'The Braid': 'Grey's Anatomy' star Kim Raver featured in Laetitia Colombani's adaptation of her novel (Taha Ahmad, Sara Sabatino, Laurent Guerin)
‘The Braid’: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Kim Raver featured in Laetitia Colombani’s adaptation of her novel (Taha Ahmad, Sara Sabatino, Laurent Guerin)

What is ‘The Braid’ about?

In Northern India, we encounter Smita (Maelzer), identified as a Dalit or “untouchable” in the film, situated at the lowest rung of the social hierarchy. Smita’s primary objective is to secure an education for her young daughter. To achieve this, they flee to the South in search of better opportunities.

Next, we are introduced to Giulia (Peluso), a young woman employed at her father’s wig factory in Puglia, Italy. When her father falls ill, Giulia discovers his concealment of the company’s bankruptcy. Left to navigate the situation for her family and factory colleagues, Giulia faces an uphill battle.

Lastly, we follow Sarah (Raver), a busy lawyer in Montreal striving to balance work commitments with parenting responsibilities after her divorce. However, her world takes a drastic turn with an unexpected and unfortunately timed cancer diagnosis.

While each woman confronts her unique personal challenges, Colombani intentionally weaves a thread of hope throughout the narrative.

As a self-professed optimist, Colombani aimed to portray the difficult situations women endure while leaving the audience with a sense of optimism, highlighting the potential for improved lives through courage and strength.

Colombani shared a poignant experience from a reader who found strength to battle cancer after reading the novel. Inspired by such responses, she hopes the audience will resonate similarly with the film, acknowledging the inherent unfairness towards women in our world and expressing optimism that small actions can contribute to positive change.

Laetitia Colombani (Céline Nieszawer)
Laetitia Colombani (Céline Nieszawer)

‘Men and women, we really need to talk and to work together for a better society’

For the filmmaker, maintaining authenticity was a paramount commitment in bringing the movie to life.

Colombani emphasized her decision not to shoot in a studio but instead on natural sets to enhance the audience’s connection with the characters. Balancing three distinct stories into one cohesive movie presented a significant challenge, but Colombani aimed for viewers to identify intimately with Smita, Giulia, and Sarah in different ways.

To imbue each character’s narrative with symbolic elements, Colombani incorporated earth, water, and ice to represent Smita, Giulia, and Sarah, respectively. Collaborating with cinematographer Ronald Plante, they ensured that these elements subtly permeated the film’s three distinct parts, providing a strong visual identity while seamlessly blending together.

Music played a crucial role in Colombani’s adaptation, and she enlisted the talents of Ludovico Einaudi, an acclaimed Italian composer, to create a powerful score. Einaudi’s music served as the narrative thread, connecting and enhancing the storytelling.

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