when a blow can also lead to love at first sight

Elise Mathy and Louis Gustin in Romain Potocki's documentary.


It’s a beautiful novel, it’s a beautiful story… In 2015 and 2017, Louis Gustin and Elise Mathy were students. She in medicine, he in European commercial law. One day they had a cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Elise was 27 years old, Louis 24. On February 27, 2015, she collapsed on the terrace of a café in Warsaw (where she was on Erasmus). On February 10, 2017, she was unable to finish her daily run to prepare for the Paris Marathon.

Emerging from their respective long postoperative tunnels, they both sought out other young men in the same situation as them. And met. Not on the vacation road, as in Michel Fugain’s song, but on the road of resilience. It was in a discussion group on Facebook called « young stroke survivors “. Since then, they have not been left. “Will anyone be able to love me again?” Inevitably we ask ourselves this question and in the end, when it happens to you, you realize that everything is possible.Elise confesses, with a wide smile and sparkling eyes.

Another documentary about disabled people? An umpteenth pensum on the Via Crucis of those who claim both the “right to indifference” and to be different? Yes and no.

Plot in four seasons

It is a banal and everyday story told by this beautiful film by Romain Potocki, with music by Vincent Delerm. Simple but brilliant. A piece of life marked by laughter and shouting, good and bad moments, failures and successes…

The script in four chapters, in four seasons, punctuates the ups and downs of this other life. His bets, his challenges, which Elise -today an endocrinologist at Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris- and Louis, who finally won his permanent contract at the Ministry of Solidarity, Health and Prevention, take up day after day, where they make their aphasia an asset in his role as director of disability projects.

A life beautifully staged by Yasmine Tashk’s graphic animation, inspired by Louis’s dream of a spider tirelessly spinning his web, an illustration, he says, of the ceaseless battle he and his partner wage on a daily basis. The “13:15” presented by Laurent Delahousse, Sunday on France 2, are an ideal setting to convey the message ofElise and Louis, following the Sunday newspaper. Because there is a message. Very quickly, the couple understood that they could not be satisfied with their beautiful story, which has nothing to do with a novel.

In August 2019 they went on a road trip through Europe, meeting other young victims of this Stroke, which affects more than 140,000 people each year in France, 10% of whom are under 45, the leading cause of physical disability in adults, the second leading cause of dementia (after Alzheimer’s disease) and mortality.

His latest challenge, this year: to go around Lake Geneva, by bicycle and on foot, after being received at the UN in Geneva. “We are not going to focus on the past but rather think about the future, live in the present”, says Elisa, who wants to believe that, “Finally, life is better now than before.”

Also read (2017): Article reserved for our subscribers emergency stroke

Nice irony of history: As chance would have it, they both suffered from hemiparesis (paralysis on one side only), Elise on the left side, Louis on the right side. “It allows them to hold hands”concludes with the poetry Romain Potocki.

Elise and Louis, Ddocumentary by Romain Potocki, produced by Auxyma (Friday, 2022, 90 min).

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