It’s been a busy month pour le cinéma français. DaboardWe are treated to Gagarin, Fanny Littard and Jeremy Troel’s imaginative look at the life touched by the demolition of an actual housing project in a suburb outside Paris, through the eyes of a displaced teenager. Then we went fu About Paris Jacques Audiard, 13y District, a sexy portrait of a triangle of young Parisians in search of direction – and love. This weekend, following the line-up, the next 75 will be revealedy The annual Cannes Film Festival, get ready for the US release of three new French films all set to open on Friday, April 29th.
Check out my interview with Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, Director I’m in loveThe rom-com that hovers, flies, spins with big ideas, the fiercely daring and reckless, and a leading lady who makes your head spin with her constant talk and daring and annoying refusal to slow down!
Meanwhile, the famous instigator of French cinema, Gaspard Noé (Irreversible, in the void, love), who is notorious for spraying the screen with graphic sex and violence, gives us whirlpoolA deep dive into the everyday life of an elderly couple with dementia. While the tense, slow-burning drama isn’t any easier to handle than his previous work, it’s not the easiest.
Opening with devotion, “To all whose minds dissolve before their hearts,” the film hides inside the crowded apartment of an unnamed woman played by Françoise Lebrun (mother and bitch), A retired psychiatrist suffers from Alzheimer’s, and her film critic husband (Italian horror director Dario Argento) has health problems. As she became increasingly unable to perform daily tasks, he attempted to write a book about film and dreams, while frustrated with his wife and the complications caused by her illness.
Noe’s genius was to shoot the film almost entirely in split screen, a stylistic choice that deeply highlights the pair’s inability to connect. As he sits at his typewriter, we see her leave the apartment, wander the streets, enter a store, and quickly forget what she’s doing there. Our anxiety builds when he finds out she’s gone and runs out to find her.
Their son (Alex Lutz), who was once a drug addict, arrives with his young son, clearly uncomfortable being an adult in the room. In one long scene, he explains to his parents that their living situation is unsustainable and tries to convince them that it is time to move to a subsidized living facility. His father flatly refuses, and his mother says in a whisper, they would be better off without her. Much of the dialogue was improvised and the scenes run long and roving like reality, an impressive feat that places the viewer in a corner, forced to watch as these people refuse to accept – or change – their fates. The movie, which is sometimes hard to bear, ends with a powerful sequence about what’s left of life once it’s uprooted.
Another movie that caught the eye this month is the latest from Picture of a woman on fire Celine Siyama, who deals death head-on. Kind of fairy tale for adults, baby maman 8-year-old Nellie (Josephine Sanz) begins saying goodbye to the residents of the living facility where her grandmother just died. She, her mother (Nina Morris) and her father (Stefan Varuben) go to her grandmother’s house to clean it up. Nelly spends the night on the sofa with her mother, who has disappeared in the morning. While her father is packing the house, Nelly plays in the woods that her mother once explored and stumbles upon a girl who builds a fort like the one that Nelly’s mother built when she was a child. No one questions the fact that girls are remarkably similar. Marion, who has the same name as Nelly’s mother, plays Gabriel Sanz, an actress, and Josephine Sanz, a real-life twin sister.
It is a direct visualization of Twilight ZoneBut the movie never feels like a ghost story or science fiction. There are no huge emotions, scary suggestive moments, or musical cues that tell us how we feel. It’s all true, the story of a girl who crosses some kind of barrier of time in the woods behind her mother’s childhood home and makes friends with the girl her mother was into. The movie has the strongest of its small moments: the girls make pancakes together and laugh wildly. Nelly helps her father shave his beard. And when Nellie saw her mother next, she sat near her in silence, the love between them clear and new and somehow deep. Indigo understands it a little better now. And that’s it.
Andrea Mayer has written creative treatments for commercial directors, a column on sex and movies for IFC, and a horror script for MGM. her first novel, room for love (St. long-running film and entertainment journalist and former indieWIRE editor, Andrea has interviewed more actors and directors than she can remember. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications such as Elle, Glamor, Variety, Time Out NY, and the Boston Globe.