• The documentary series Lambert vs. Lambert: In Vincent's Name retraces in four episodes a case with medical, judicial, societal and human repercussions.
  • Vincent Lambert died on July 11, 2019 at Reims University Hospital after more than 10 years of debates on the end of life.
  • While everyone has heard about this case, who knows the life of Vincent Lambert? The Disney+ documentary allows you to meet the man behind the case.

"Vincent Lambert is dead, after ten years of legal battle," headlined20 Minutes on July 11, 2019 while the "Lambert case", at the heart of debates on the end of life, divided the France for more than a decade. The name of Vincent Lambert, a 32-year-old psychiatric nurse, severely disabled after a road accident in 2008, has gradually been emptied of his humanity, vampirized by the ensuing case. The documentary series Lambert against Lambert, in the name of Vincent, available on Apple + this Wednesday, appears as an attempt to repair, putting this man back at the center. Who was Vincent Lambert before the case of the same name?

The series of four episodes revisits this accident of life at the heart of a fight between two clans that has gradually made Vincent invisible. Nearly thirty witnesses – relatives, families, doctors, politicians – were interviewed to offer the most precise and objective view possible of what has been at stake during these ten years. But, beyond the public debate on the end of life and the family breakdowns that have hit the headlines, the documentary by Elodie Buzuel and Vincent Trisolini presents a human, party-loving and complex Vincent Lambert. A man who burned life at both ends and who, despite the birth of his little girl, aged two months when he was the victim of his car accident, did not see himself getting old.

Thanks to the family archives, we meet a man always ready to mess around, an accomplice husband, happy with his home in a village of 600 inhabitants with his cat and his little girl. We discover his voice, his caustic humor, his personality and his cracks. "We had a lot of excuses to party, I would say we probably had a party every week, [...] we shared the festive side of students who were well abused, "says Benoît Meric, his friend from nursing school in the documentary. "Vincent is a nice person, very lively," says Vincent Caruel, another school friend. He was always ready to party, he sometimes abused a little more than others, it was his way of being fully alive. And, behind his corrosive humour, against the tide of his traditionalist Catholic upbringing, his relatives evoke a darker side.

"An intense life, without concession"

"Vincent had a taste for risk, the fury of living," describes his wife Rachel Lambert. He "was looking for things that pushed him to go very, very fast, skiing, very fast, driving," says his half-sister Marie-Geneviève, to the point that many people were afraid to get in the car with him. "He has a very 'I control' side and indeed he never has an accident, but driving is perilous," confirms his nephew François with whom he was very close. He liked to "live with great intensity on the moments to live, as if they were the last," notes his sister Marie. And the accident of which he is victim in 2008 raises questions. No trace of braking was found at the scene, a straight road that he used several times a day. What happened?

"There is speed, there is an accident with rollovers. There is a kinetic shock with an expulsion of the vehicle that makes Vincent Lambert fall into a coma instantly, "says Elodie Buzuel, creator and co-director of the documentary. But the series fails to dispel the mystery. "We wanted to tell the truth about this man and the areas that remain mysterious," she continues.

Should we think that he caused this accident? Members of his family do not completely rule out this hypothesis. "The testimonies of his relatives agree, they all tell that Vincent Lambert dragged a malaise born of his childhood wounds and that he expressed it by leading an intense life, without concession, whose limits he liked to explore, analyzes Elodie Buzuel. There is something hovering over this man all his life. And his wife testifies to it. She said, "Vincent thought he was going to die young." »

An intimate and moving docu for an extraordinary subject

Without ever falling into shamelessness, the documentary evokes the sexual assault of which Vincent was victim at the age of 9 by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, a traditionalist community to which his parents belonged. A trauma that could partly explain its fragilities. "I know he has things that gnaw at him, that he thinks about all the time," Lambert said. This episode of his past is notably evoked by the clan of his wife – in favor of the interruption of treatment – to assert the refusal of care related to the memory of the traumatic body. "It was important that we could also, through this story, shed light on what the life of this body could be," insists Sara Nourdin, Rachel Lambert's lawyer. There is a form of violence, reading this story, that is inflicted on this body. »

These four episodes reconstruct with great accuracy eleven years of debates on the end of life that stormed the room of the CHU of Reims. How could we forget that behind this name, Vincent Lambert, there was an individual? Lambert vs. Lambert tries to explain how this banal news item created such a media hubbub. A documentary as intimate and moving as its subject is out of the ordinary.

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