The Eighth and unfortunately final French film festival got under away a couple of weeks ago. With over 90 films on display, this year's festival promised to be as good as any that preceded it or any kind of festival yet to come. Anja Ekelof and Kenneth Foxe give a brief rundown on just some of the films on show.
Comment je me suis disputé ... (ma vie sexuelle)
is a slice of life drama about a young philosophy student come
part-time teacher. Mathieu Amalric is very strong as the pensive
hero in a film whose life prospects are going slowly awry. The
film exudes sensitivity and shows an insight into human nature
which is paralleled only by the likes of Woody Allen and Robert
It is the director Arnaud Desplechin's third film and is a slow
but rewarding affair. It's funny at times, at other times sublime,
and always just a little satirical. Quite simply, a quite wonderful
Le Bonheur est dans le Pré
is perhaps best known
for being Eric Cantona's first attempt at off the field acting.
However, apart from Cantona's sometimes cringe-inducing acting,
it is a quite lovely comedy of mistaken identities and of the
struggle between emotional and material values. The film centres
around a man from the northern town of Dole, played briliantly
by Michel Serrault, who runs a troubled toiletseat/brush factory.
Not only does he suffer a close brush with death but is mistaken
for a man who left his family 25 years ago. Carmen Maura, Almodóvar's
diva, gives a great performance as the woman who thinks she has
found her long-lost man.
A viewing also provides the extra task of trying to understand
the guttural sounds of Canto's Marseillais-French.
Les Amants du Pont-Neuf,
the most expensive film in French
film history looks suitably stunning and lives up to the millions
it must have cost. This 1991 film takes place during the bicentennial
celebrations of the French revolution.
It is a drama acted out between a mysterious eye-patch wearing
woman (Juliette Binoche) and a young homeless man (Denis Lavant).
They both live on the closed off Pont Neuf in the middle of Paris.
Les Amants... is a moving portrayal of the outcasts of
Who are these people? Why do they end up living on the bridges
of Paris? The film answers some of these questions, all the while
thrilling the viewer with amazing shots of Paris.
Les Amants du Pont-Neuf should be watched on the big screen
if at all possible.
is Mathieu Kassowitz's superb and startling indictment
of the problems of French suburban life as drugs, violence, and
riots proliferate. The action centres on four key players: Vinz,
Saïd, Hubert, and a gun.
Filmed in black and white, and using a 'day in the life' structure,
La Haine (Hate) is a disturbing look at police brutality
and the reaction it creates.
It is in equal parts funny and depressing. The ending is as poignant,
and shocking as any. Never descending into a Tarantino-like fantasy
world, Kasowitz is still very obviously influenced by the American
way. In his own way, however, he is an original.
The realism of La Haine is stunning, and the film is social
commentary at its best.
Etat des lieux
(strangely translated to Inner City),
is shot in grainy black and white in the suburbs of France and
at the outset looks like La Haine Part Deux. It is not.
Far from it in fact.
Although it starts with a mock interview with disenfranchised
teenagers, it turns into an attempted social drama where somebody
has obviously lost the plot.
Jean-François Richet wrote and directed this film which
qualifies in the film category of "Yeah good idea, didn't
work out". Some scenes are, however, very strong.
One opens with a quote from Karl Marx and shows the main character
working in his factory, which looks more early 20th century then
Renault 1995. It then cuts to a ring where two young men box
to the soundtrack of machines and a great rap-track.
The film is made in some vain attempt to promote the idea of a
Marxist revoluion in the 'Cités', because there is no longer
a working class only 'suburbanites'. The film borrows heavily
from 1920's Russian propaganda films on workers ethics but nothing
is said to convince, in fact nothing happens.
Meaning? Dunno. Message? Marxism-lite. Music? Great. Overall view
is that you should watch this film if you must, other wise stay
clear - there are other and cheaper ways to spend your time and