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Thread: Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2020

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    THE TRUTH/LA VÉRITE (Hirokazu Koreeda 2019)

    HIROKAZU KOREEDA: THE TRUTH/LA VÉRITÉ (2019)

    Opening Night Film


    CATHERINE DENEUVE IN LA VÉRITÉ

    Koreeda jumps boundaries smoothly enough, carrying French divas

    Koreeda's first film outside Japan, in French, focuses on Catherine Deneuve as Fabienne (which incidentally is Deneuve's middle name), a French screen icon who has just published her memoirs, ironically called The Truth since they seem to contain very little truth. Her daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche, low keyed here but obviously a diva herself) differs with how her mother relates her life there.The men currently in her life also have issues with her. Disagreements come to a head at Fabienne's secluded house where Lumir comes with her TV actor husband (Ethan Hawke) and their young daughter. Hawke plays one of his amiable loser roles, the more thankless because his character doesn't understand French, which is what is mostly being spoken. The issues on the table could interfere with an upcoming project where Fabienne is already not comfortable about appearing with a young diva (Manon Clavel). Is Fabienne imperious, bitchy and jealous? Yes. Was this whole ting tailored as a vehicle for Deneuve? Bien sûr.

    There is general agreement that though this isn't a great film, Koreeda has jumped East-West boundaries smoothly enough. Jessica Kiang wrote for The Playlist that the director avoids the "potential for melodrama" and despite the "misleadingly grandiose title" the film sagely eschews the "grand, tormented revelation" in favor of "an accretion of little moments" that are "often very funny but also sometimes "a little sad," remaining well "embedded" in the lives of the film's "sharply drawn, idiosyncratic" personalities. That is true, but while Koreeda juggles all his subplots smoothly, this film feels ultimately rather inconsequential. A "grand, tormented revelation" might have been welcome. Yes, there are numerous amusing moments and some putatively sad ones. But this is a far cry from Koreeda gems like Maboroshi, After Life, Nobody Knows, Still Walking, Like Father, Like Son, and the 2018 Cannes Palme d'or-winner Shoplifters.

    This isn't, as some say, one of Deneuve's best roles, because it's not embedded in an interesting enough plot. Libération, which wasn't impressed, calls this movie a "a kind of sitcom deluxe." It is a chance to watch a lot of Deneuve in a freer-than-usual self-satirizing mode. The scenes (and discussion) of the film-within-film, a sci-fi time-travel item where Deneuve's character's mother(Manon Claver) becomes younger than her daughter by living in space, seem too complicated, though obviously were deemed necessary to show Fabienne is still working, or trying to work, but finding doing so complicated for multiple reasons.

    The Truth, La vérité, 106 mins., debuted at Venice Aug. 2019 with a dozen international festival appearances following. At its French theatrical release Dec. 25, the AlloCiné press rating was a respectable 3.7 (74%), while the Metascore showing anglophone reactions is 71%. IFC releases the film in the US Mar. 20, 2020. Promotions are on view at IFC Center, NYC.

    Thursday, March 5, 6:30pm (Was to have been introduced by Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke)
    Thursday, March 5, 9:15pm
    (Binoche unlikely to be present due to Coronavirus travel concerns.)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-06-2020 at 10:21 AM.

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    PAPICHA (Mounia Meddour 2019)

    MOUNIA MEDDOUR: PAPICHA (2019)


    SHRINE BOUTELLA, AMIRA HILDA DOUAOUDA, LYNA KHOUDRI IN PAPICHA

    An artistic young woman's risky revolt against Islamic fanaticism in 1990'S Algeria

    Filmmaker Mounia Meddour's spirited, explosive, poetic first feature focuses on Algeria in the 1990's, known as the "Black Decade." This is a time when a civil war was going on and the spirit of Islamic fundamentalism was exerting a repressive influence on young women, and everyone else. There were random bombings and shootings and Taliban-like warning issued all the time. Papicha is an Algerian word that refers to a funny, attractive, liberated young woman. At the center of the film are four or five of these, all great friends, at the university, pretty, vibrant women who smoke, dress informally, go swimming in the sea, and generally have a wild time. They are being watched all the time by the self-appointed police of fundamentalist Muslim correctness. Several young men are attracted to the women, but within the social context this attraction is almost doomed to come to grief. There is also an attempted rape and an unwanted pregnancy.

    The protagonist, Nedjma (Lyna Khudri) is bound from the start, however, to exert her independence and express her talent as a designer of creative, individualistic dress designs. A series of violent attacks by the Islamic fanatics, particularly a gang of menacing women in black, including the murder of a close friend called Linda (Meriem Medjkrane), terrorizes the "papicha" gang. But that only strengthens Nedjima in her resolve to stage a provocative fashion show or défilé in the dining hall of the university on a Friday (a day when it's forbidden for women to congregate). Notices have been telling women they must wear the haik or traditional all-over body cover cloth (something like the Egyptian miyayya). This gives Nedjima the inspiration of making her défilé be a a series of radical secular variations of the haik, designs revealing flesh but with a hood that the models throw back.

    The scenes throughout this lively and very feminine film are so explosive and energetic they somehow overwhelmed my sense of a narrative; I felt exhausted at the end, and unfulfilled, though the dreamy, high-speed action among the young women in the first third and the propulsive, giddy way it's followed by the camera, remained a pleasant memory.

    Opinions are that adventurous camerawork, part expressionism, part poetic swoon, and vibrant mostly female leads (who seem 200% committed to their roles) help compensate for a script that runs into trouble in the third act when, after the last most violent climax, the filmmaker doesn't seem to know where to end and there are a series of anticlimaxes.

    The way the young women (and the young men who're interested in them) slide back and forth from French to Algerian Arabic is very expressive of their slippery, changing identities. The fundamentalists object vocally, among other things, to their speaking French, the "foreign," "European," colonial language. But for the women French may express culture, fashion, freedom, class, not to mention an escape from repressive interpretations of Islam. But they must use Arabic for daily contact with tradesmen and to talk about the most intimate things. To see French so long after the Algerian revolution of the Sixties still so important for some is enlightening.

    Director Mounia Meddour's mother is Russian and she was born in Moscow. Her father was Algerian director Azzedine Meddour, who died in 2000. Meddour received her audiovidual and cinematic training in France, preparing at the CEFPF (European Training Center for Film Production). She began with documentaries and shorts, then moved on to fiction.

    Papicha, 108 mins., in French and Arabic, debuted at Cannes May 2019 in the Un Certain Regard section, and it has had seven other international festival appearances. The French theatrical release was on Oct. 9, 2019, with a moderately favorable response (AlloCiné press 3.7 of 74%) and winning two Césars, for production design and Most Promising Female Newcomer (Meilleur Espoir Féminin) to lead actress Lyna Khudri. Papicha will be a Distrib release in the US.

    Rendez-Vous with French Cinema
    Friday, March 6, 1:45pm
    Thursday, March 12, 6:15pm
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-06-2020 at 04:43 PM.

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    ALICE AND THE MAYOR/ALICE ET LE MAIRE ( Nicolas Pariser 2019)

    NICOLAS PARISER: ALICE AND THE MAYOR/ALICE ET LE MAIRE (2019)


    FABRICE LUCCHINI AND ANAÏS DEMOUSIER IN ALICE ET LE MAIRE


    Do ideas and politics mix?

    In a filmed interview prepared for the Rendez-Vous audience (because of restricted travel due to the coronavirus), director/writer Nicolas Pariser explained that he had two film ideas, one about a politician whose career has run dry, another about an intellectual young woman. He thought neither of them had enough weight in itself, so he decided to combine them into one film. So we got Alice and the Mayor. Then, it was important to get Fabrice Lucchini and Anaïs Demoustier, since the two actors were essential to his conception of the characters. Luckily, he got them. If he hadn't, he said, he might have tried to hire Isabelle Huppert as the mayor and Vincent Lacoste as the young intellectual.

    In the film as it was made, the mayor of Lyon, Paul Théraneau (Fabrice Lucchini), has spent thirty years in politics but for some time has felt uninspired. Somehow, we don't know how, he finds a brilliant young woman philosopher (actually a lit. doctorate but somehow teaching philosophy at Oxford now), Alice (Anaïs Demoustier), and persuades her to come back to her native Lyon to serve as his advisor.

    Anne's presence does stir things up. Pariser gives us a scene or two of the full-dress mayoralty in function, with Théraneau looking very bored. She starts giving him notes, the first of one is "More modesty." She becomes his confidante. Demoustier is great in this role, because she seems unflappable, calm yet fresh-faced, chutzbah plus cool. (Freckles add a lot.) Only when things get very complicated does Alice finally break down, and in time, this odd position has so much grown on her that when it's about to disappear, she's sad.

    This is an ideal vehicle for Lucchini, who always nudges the war of the sexes but whose great gift is for making ideas come alive - whether they are his or those of the French classics; or simply at highly articulate speech. In fact his beginning was as an actor for Eric Rohmer, and another point in the interview was that Pariser is a great fan of Rohmer, so he too is an inspiration, and having a Rohmer actor appeals to him. This also seems an improvement over Pariser's The Great Game (reviewed in R-V 2016), his debut, a political thriller that ran out of thrill two thirds of the way through. A different trajectory applies here because the mayor gets very jazzed up and develops great plans to become head of the socialist party, but when that falls through, he deflates again, no longer devoid of ideas but devoid of ambition, ready to become a professor, perhaps. In fact, there is no hint of anything sexual between Alice and the mayor: she has an old (boy)friend who comes and goes and dates a new one, a book publisher she admires when she learns of his focus on artisanal printing and well-made books, one small step away from a corporatized world.

    In his interview Pariser also said that he had to enliven the action (which still is very talky, especially by American standards): he could not shoot people sitting around at desks. In this film aides and a chief of staff, dynamic and authoritative woman of color called Isabelle (Léonie Simaga), are constantly calling on Alice and moving her to a new location to see the mayor. In this, Pariser said, he was inspired by Aaron Sorkin's "West Wing" (whose dynamic walk-and-talk sequences in the White House are justly famous).

    At some point there's a discussion of whether politicians have ideas. It's said that they only care about power, and don't have time for abstract thought.

    Somehow this is at least a mite better than Pariser's 2015 debut Le grand jeu (confirmed by AlloCiné 3.8 vs. 3.7, for various reasons. First, it frankly declares itself to be about ideas, which Pariser obviously is. Second, its central setup is engaging and simple and keeps a clear focus. Third, he actors. Actually, the relationship between the over-sixty man and the attractive thirtyish woman is resonant in itself, but is managed with good taste. The mayor's behavior is impeccable. They never even touch, until there's a friendly face-kiss only at the end, when they meet again some time later. This may be a heavy dose of French talkiness, but Rohmer and Sorkin might not have disapproved. Lyon is a pretty impressive city, by the way.

    Alice and the Mayor, Alice et le maire, 103 mins, debuted at Cannes May 2019 in Directors' Fortnight, and opened in French theaters in Oct., with an AlloCiné press rating of 3.8 (76%). Anaïs Demoustier won the Best Actress award for her performance at the 2020 Césars. She had won the 2011 Meilleure Espoir Féminin (Most Promising Newcomer) for [I]D'amour et d'eau fraîche/Living for Love Alone[/I] (R-V 2011).
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-26-2020 at 12:55 PM.

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    THE BEST YEARS OF A LIFE/LES /l (claude lelouch 2019)

    CLAUDE LELOUCH: THE BEST YEARS OF A LIFE/LES PLUS BELLES ANNÉES D'UNE VIE (2019)


    JEAN-LOUIS TRINTIGNANT, ANOUK AIMÉE IN LES PLUS BELLES ANNÉES D'UNE VIE


    Long-delayed sequel

    Way back in 1966, 54 years ago, Claude Lelouch's A Man and a Woman projected the simple formula that title signals into one of the biggest French hits in America and worldwide and at home (Cannes Palme d'Or, multiple Césars). It was easy, almost more like a music video, and Lelouch had started off working on short films made for TV. And with that datada-dada-dada-datada-dada earwig theme by Francis Lai. The actors were class all the way, the glamorous Anouk Aimée and the brilliant Jean-Louis Trintignant. They're all three in their eighties now. Lelouch is the youngster, at 82; Trintignant is 89 and Aimée, though you can hardly believe it (she's still beautiful) is 87. So prepare for the sequel.

    The new plot line is realistic in its starting point, putting Trintignant in a home with dementia unable to remember his successes as a racing car driver, his Man and a Woman gig. Anne (Aimée) has long retired from producing films and runs a fabric shop in Normandy. It's Jean-Louis's son (Antoine Sire) who stirs the sleepy pot by bringing Anne to the home to visit Jean-Louis, to jog his father's dim memory to recall that long-ago, joyous affair. Jean-Louis, as is Trintignant usually in films, is feisty and difficult. But both are teasing and playful.

    I found myself wondering at the long first dialogue between them, out on the lawn where the aging Jean-Louis likes to sit alone by himself and recite poetry and muse on his memories - memories particularly of that time when he lived Anne. How did they remember this long exchange, which hardly makes any sense at times, since it keeps going back to zero when Jean-Louis forgets what's just been said. The script seeks to be a brooding, haunting, inspiring review of memories of a life. Or it's simply a review of Lelouch's greatest hit. The title points to a prosier and more plodding style than the original. And the images are less lustrous than its are, as flashback clips make only too clear.

    For a while, there's a hint of Beckett, with a romantic gloss. Or Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad: Didn't I know you once? Why do you look familiar? You remind me of someone I once loved. And Anne makes it so much better because - and this too is romantic - she doesn't just doggedly insist she's the woman he once knew, but is cagey, instead. Gradually Jean-Louis starts to catch on and remember better, dreams of driving and eventually goes on drives with Anne, who likes this so much she keeps coming back for repeat visits. Jean-Louis starts functioning so well that the attractive woman director of the home, who says he's her pet ("though I should not say such things") begins to think maybe he is playing with his dementia, pretending it's worse than it is.

    And so on. I found this fun, teasing and touching, and it is filled out by details about the grown-up daughter of Anne (Souad Amidou), a vet specialized in horses (cue pretty equine shots), and her and Jean-Louis' son's cute kids. And there are the flashbacks using clips from A Man and a Woman. But then you realize the material is thin, and Lelouch is doing things to fill it out, such as running his famous 1976 single take short film, C'Était un rendez-vous, of his high speed early morning race across Paris, which he spreads out by slicing it up between other shots, pretending that it was an exploit of Jean-Louis'. But this is cheating, and doesn't even work very well - though still, the sequences of the Anne/Jean-Louis present day drives somehow have a bit of the old magic, or at least a feel of being real, and taking us away from the monotony of the home and the flashback clips.

    I admit it: I enjoyed a lot of this film, because of the layered effect, and Trintignant and Aimée. And in the clips, you remember that Aimée was astonishingly beautiful back then, and that helps explain her enduring beauty today, and that the hair that was so great, is still pretty great, and dyed to look the same color. "Why are you prettier than I am?" asks old Jean-Louis. And Anne answers, "Because I use more makeup."

    This sequel that has been called "treacly," saccharine," and "corny," (was the original any different?) still has one thing going for it, the class of its two stars. We can be glad they're still around. But let's face it, the juice has gone out not just of the love story but of Lelouch's skill as a filmmaker, which never was quite of the first rank. Lelouch, obviously, and maybe we should be glad, because it's already been done, hasn't the guts to do a searing examination of love among the elderly as Michael Haneke did in his difficult but superb film starring Trintignant, Amour (NYFF 2012). That was about faithfulness to the end; this is about something less related to the long haul, remembering a romance, or trying to. But memory is an issue we all face as we age, a complicated one this film does something with. So cut it a little slack. And enjoy Trintignant's feisty edge, his razor grin, and Aimée's big eyes and swept back hair.

    The Best Years of a Life/Les plus belles année d'une vie, 90 mins., debuted in Competition in May 2019 at Cannes; four other festivals, but it didn't make any big ones.. Its May French theatrical release was a moderate success (AlloCiné Spectators score 3.6, Critics 3.4 (68%)).

    Rendez-Vous with French Cinema:
    Saturday, March 7, 3:45pm (Q&A was originally planned with Claude Lelouch and Valérie Perrin but did not take place)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-08-2020 at 09:21 AM.

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    SPELLBOUND/LES ENVOÛTÉS (Pascal Bonitzer 2019)

    PASCAL BONITZER: SPELLBOUND/LES ENVÔUTÉS (2019)


    SARA GIRAUDEAU, NICOLAS DUVAUCHELLE IN LES ENVOûTÉS

    Mixing sex and ghosts

    In this film very freely adapted (with a tricky timeline) from Henry James's short story "The Way It Came" (which he retitled "The Friends of the Friends") Coline (Sara Giraudeau), a freelance writer for a women's magazine, is sent on the "story of the month" to the depths of the Pyrenees to interview Simon (Nicolas Duvauchelle), a gruff, solitary artist who may have seen his mother's ghost appear to him at the moment of her death. Coline is especially curious since her beautiful neighbor Azar (Anabel Lopez) has claimed to have seen her father's ghost at his passing. In the event, Simon tries to seduce Coline during the course of the evening, which she resists; but she falls for him anyway.

    Bonitzer wrote many scripts for other notable directors and has by now directed many films. But of Right Here, Right Now (R-V 2017) I wrote, "there lingers a certain suspicion that this famous screenwriter (who's worked most for Téchiné and Rivette, but many others including Raoul Ruiz, Chantal Akerman and Barbet Schroeder) isn't quite as good a director as he is a writer: another person at the helm of this film might have provided it with more warmth and umph."

    Nicolas Devauchelle however is a sexy French actor who has an outsider quality about him enhanced by a lot of prominent tattoos and a strong presence. He has gotten to act for some of the best, Téchiné, Resnais, particularly Claire Denis: he has a hot segment in Denis' recent Let the Sunshine In. His debut was in Beau Travail. He has had a great twenty-year career, and he's still only 39. As the remote, but sure-footed Simon, he does not disappoint.

    Nor does Sara Giraudeau, till the scenario leads her astray. Sara, who is 34, daughter of an actress and writer mother and (deceased) movie director father, has a decade of film roles behind her. She isn't pretty in the face, but resembles a Modigliani nude, with a thin but perfectly shapely body, which we get to see: her friend Azar, at some point, does a small painting of her unclothed, and she's seen in bed with Simon. Coline is marginal but somehow touch, as a freelance writer on a failing magazine must be. Why does she come apart? Too many inexplicable spirit phenomena, perhaps?

    Les Envoûtés combines elements of the supernatural with those of romantic thriller (a French critic, Emilie Leoni, poetically calls it a "mélo aux frontières du fantastique".) Jean Serroy of Le Dauphine Libéré, also cited by AlloCiné, wrote, "If there is a spell, it's an amorous and not supernatural one, and therefore rather banal and boring; but Sara Biraudeau and Nicolas Devauchelle are an enchanting couple - why not love them?" But there is never any clear logic in the behavior of either person, though ultimately it is the initially more "normal" Colline who goes most off the rails.

    Initially this film has an appealing free-flowing quality, but later scenes are so off the wall it becomes frustratingly unrelatable. This film has more than its share of the inexplicable and seemed to me unduly complicated. I gave up caring. As Coline's best friend, Sylvain (Nicolas Maury of "Call My Agent") helps with warmth and humanity otherwise lacking.

    Spellbound/Les envoûtés, 101 mins., was released Dec. 11, 2019 in France. Its AlloCiné press rating was a poor 3.0 (60%).

    Rendez-Vous with French Cinema:
    Sunday, March 8, 4:00pm (Q&A originally planned with Pascal Bonitzer; a filmed one was substituted that did not satisfy.)
    Friday, March 13, 9:15pm
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-09-2020 at 11:00 AM.

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    THE DAZZLED/LES ÉBLOUIS (Sarah Suco 2019)

    SARAH SUCO: THE DAZZLED/LES ÉBLOUIS (2019)



    CAMILLE COTTIN IN THE DAZZLED

    Religion troubles

    In the orderly scheduling of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, a film titled "The Spellbound" is followed by one called "The Bewitched." I confess my French does not extend to the distinctions between envoûté and éblouis, and if you look up synonyms, they can be interchangeable. However that, the "envoûté" film, was about spirits and sex; this, the "ébloui" one, delves into religion and those led astray by a radical kind of Catholicism imported from the States in the Seventies called the "charismatic" movement. Its possible effect is dramatized by focusing on a family in rural Angoulême that gets involved in it. The filmmaker, whose feature debut this is, has freely confessed that she want through a similar experience in her early years.

    There is a sharp conflict over the "community" they're incorporated into among the family members. Twelve-year-old Camille (Céleste Brnnquell), a promising acrobat, performs a sketch that treats prayer lightly. The leader of the church her family belongs to, known as Le Berger - The Shepherd, (Jean-Pierre Daroussin) asks Camille's parents to take her out of the circus training. Both mom (Camille Cottin of the Netflix series "Call My Agent!" aka "Dix pour cent") and dad (Éric Caravaca, of another Netflix French series, "Un village français" ) have recently come under The Shepard's sway; the mother seems to need it, and the husband seems to be a doormat. Camille and her younger brothers (Armand Rayaume, Jules Dhios Francisco) are unhappy and contstantly tempted to break away.

    The sect, called Community of the Dove, has warm and happy collective elements, such as cooking shared meals, singing, dancing, playing soccer, and sharing a feeling of holiness. But there are also really weird and creepy and controlling cult aspects, exerted by The Shepherd, which pit Camille against the Community from the start and makes her try to keep her younger brothers free of its power, for which their parents become agents.

    The last part of the film focuses on a scandal that isn't peculiar to this kind of Catholicism but an issue of the whole religion, and this may make for an exciting (if rather rushed) finale, it takes us away from the true focus. Suco seems to like emotional scenes to involve everybody shouting at the top of their lungs, which eliminates and subtlety. Nonetheless this is a film that's full of vibrant life and makes you think. The ensemble scenes are very well staged, and young Céleste Brnnquell has no trouble holding the screen throughout.

    The Dazzled/Les éblouis, 99 mins., debuted at Angoulême; several other French fests. French release 20 Nov. 2019, AlloCine rating 3.7 (74%).

    Rendez-Vous:
    Sunday, March 8, 6:30pm (Q&A with Sarah Suco)
    Friday, March 13, 4:15pm
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-09-2020 at 06:39 PM.

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    DEERSKIN/LE DAIM (Quentin Depieux 2019)

    QUENTIN DEPIEUX: DEERSKIN/LE DAIM (2019)


    JEAN DUJARDIN IN LE DAIM

    The man who mistook himself for an old leather jacket

    Eric Kohn of IndieWire describes this "slim doodle of a movie" whose "outré premise" would "have worked better as a short" as "a 78-minute stunt with one appealing hook: Jean Dujardin, hilarious and unhinged, as a psychopath so infatuated with his new jacket that he decides it should be the only one in the world." Last year the Rendez-Vous included his Keep an Eye Out/Au poste! and 2015 R-V had Reality. He has a lot of them, and now has a wide festival and international audience. Ultmately however Depieux is a thing of the cultist.

    Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist) stars in this, for Depieux, typically bizarre and surreal take on the midlife crisis movie (with Western glances) in which Georges (Dujardin) drops several thousand Euros on an Easy Rider–style, 100%-deerskin jacket retrieved from the bottom of a trunk, then absconds to a country inn in a sleepy town far away from his wife. There, he starts experimenting with a mini-DV camcorder, enlisting the help of an aspiring film editor (Portrait of Lady on Fire’s Adèle Haenel) to assemble a most unusual docufiction—for which a certain garment comes to act as an unconventional muse. "Dupieux’s romp—in which ATM withdrawal freezes, parka confiscations, and a repurposed ceiling fan all play unforgettable roles—opened last year’s Director’s Fortnight at Cannes," says the blurb for this Greenwich Entertainment release.

    However, one may side with Critikat.com's Thomas Lequeu in concluding that this film, which plays around with looks into mirrors a lot, is itself too self regarding. For fans of the terminally twee who are indifferent to the underlying cruelty of Depieux's work. Here, Georges - who is a psychopath, yes, but also a con man and a fool - is eventually making snuff films and the final one (spoiler alert) is his own. Haemel's character also is incompehensible, because she is quick witted one minute and idiotic the next. Depieux's films are parlor games carried out with maniacal dedication. They are ideal for midnight screenings. At the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, this one was a late show, which is only at nine p.m. because the schedule is kind to the older clientele (largely absent for this) and to the employees of the Walter Reade Theater.

    The part that appealed to me is the sense of someone being off entirely into his own world and happy in it, and the repeated hints of Western genre elements.

    Deerskin/Le daim, 77 mins, debuted at Cannes Directors Fortnight May 2019 and theatrically in France Jun.; the AlloCine press rating was 3.8 (76%), but AlloCiné's spectators' collective score is a mediocre 3.0 (60%).

    Rendez-Vous:
    Sunday, March 8, 9:15pm
    Saturday, March 14, 9:00pm
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-09-2020 at 06:50 PM.

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    WHO YOU THINK I AM /CELLE QUE VOUS CROYEZ (Safy Nobbou 2019)

    SAFY NOBBOU: WHO YOU THINK I AM/CELLE QUE VOUS CROYEZ (2019)


    JULIETTE BINOCHE AND FRANçOIS CIVIL IN CELLE QUE VOYS CROYEZ


    Having all the endings you want

    Who You Think I Am, which stars Juliette Binoche, is a glossy female fantasy for women of a certain age. It's perhaps an improvement over Safy Nobbou's beautiful but toothless 2016 In the Forests of Siberia (R-V 2017). (Again Nobbou adapts a novel, this time by Camille Laurens .) It has tension and emotion to spare. But that tension and emotion is a bit artificial, a thing of the woman's magazine story. It's remote from the full-throated lustiness of Claire Denis' recent Juliette Binoche vehicle Let the Sunshine In/Un beau soleil intérieur, with its life-affirming defiance of aging and sexual engagement with men of all sizes, ages, and weight classes from Nicolas Duchavelle to Gérard Depardieu, Binoche this time is involved in unhealthy vicarious fantasy life via social media. The idea that réseaux sociaux can lead to dangerous and disappointing relationships seems a bit retro: we became aware of that danger twenty-five years ago. Have the French just discovered it?

    Claire (Binoche) is a university lecturer, a glamorous, show-offy teacher of literature or something, who however has an embarrassing memory lapse during one of her lectures. She's fifty. And she was dumped by her husband and left with her two cute boys for a younger women. She's gotten a young lover, Ludovic (Guillaume Gouix), but he's just dumped her. So she drifts into a self-created fake Facebook profile as a very young, very beautiful blonde women named Clara who starts a Facebook chat with another young and bearded even cuter hunk, Alex (François Civil). Does she know he's Ludo's roommate? Is that just a weird coincidence? The contrivances went too fast for me and there were too many of him.

    Amp up the beauty and the glamor on both sides, and the speed of the risk-taking. Or course all this can work because Binoche is beautiful, but clearly aging: she's now 56. We are asked to believe that Alex even thinks her voice (she talks to him eventually on a special cell phone for this purpose only) sounds younger than "Clara's" supposed 24 years.

    The phone sex goes all the way and, after all, isn't masturbation sexier in film than the real thing - because it's all about imagination? Eventually Claire has taken Clara so far so successfully that Alex is madly in love with her and she must call a halt to it. Twists and turns follow.

    Let us add that while the device of a psychiatrist as a mediator, sounding board, and moral barometer for what Claire is doing is artificial and obvious at best, again this film is class all the way because someone of the caliber of Nicole Garcia has been enlisted for the job of playing the shrink. She provides complexity without even saying anything.

    Celle que vous croyez has a kind of classic voyeuristic moment, when the voyeur, Claire, is able to go right up to Alex and drink in his young macho hunkiness, because of course he doesn't know what she looks like. Thus ends a meeting she has agreed to, as Clara, but cannot follow through on. The story then has it both ways, the novel playing twist games, by having Claire compose a manuscript that she submits to Dr. Catherine Bormans (Garcia) in which she retells the story of her deception of Alex with a happy ending - and then Claire meets up with Ludo and the "real" story's sad ending is reversed and made happy too - but Claire is still a lonely lady (with two hyper-cute young sons). Tell me this isn't old fashioned women's fiction.

    One finishes watching this film, I suppose, either entranced, if one has bought into its fantasies (I heard one viewer at the end admiring the "complexity" of the plotting), or mildly disgusted, as I was, feeling I'd been led into an elaborate, sordid game, that is made to look somehow glamorous because it's a French film with French stars and the glossy French cinema industry behind it.

    Who You Think I Am/Celle que vou croyez, 101 mins., had its French theatrical release Feb. 27, 2019. The AlloCiné press rating 3.4 (68%). A Cohen Media release in the US.

    Rendez-Vpus with French Cinema:
    Friday, March 6, 6:00pm (Q&A with Safy Nebbou and Juliette Binoche)
    Monday, March 9, 2:00pm
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-09-2020 at 09:02 PM.

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    ON A MAGICAL NIGHT/CHAMBRE 212 (Chistophe Honoré 2029)

    CHRISTOPHE HONORÉ: ON A MAGICAL NIGHT/CHAMBRE 212 (2019)


    VINCENT LACOSTE, CHIARA MASTRIANNI IN CHAMBRE 212

    Honoré's boulevard-style "Comédie de remariage"

    Stephen Dalton wrote in Hollywood Reporter that this came just at the right time midway in the Cannes Festival when attendees much needed a "frothy" "bed-hopping" French farce as a "palate-cleanser." "Christophe Honore’s bittersweet comic fantasy stars Chiara Mastroianni as a highly sexed college lecturer weighing up the steep cost of loving," Dalton writes. Suppose, the film fantasizes, you could go back a few decades to your spouse in his youthful prime, would you still like him, knowing how jaded you'll get later on? A great "springboard into screwball comedy and counterfactual fantasy," says Dalton, even if Honoré gets his plot-line a bit muddled. Vincent Lacoste plays the young version of haughty oversexed prof Chiara Mastroianni's mature hubby played by Benjamin Biolay. This is a top cast. Honoré doesn't quite know how to end, says Dalton, but the final sequence, where Chiara and all her former lovers, including both the young and old version of her husband, meet at a bar and dance away the night to Barry Manilow, is a "patently dumb notion" that nonetheless delivers "a perverse kind of pleasure." It all may be too French for outside audiences, but the setup is readymade for a Hollywood remake.

    What Dalton doesn't make quite clear is that this whole thing is best conceived as a night of meditation. Maria (Mastroianni) checks into room 212 in the hotel across the street in a sort of mock running away from home, and all the action of the film, the coming and going of men and boys in that room, constitutes her vivid review of her promiscuous past. This she does without announcing it to her husband Richard (Biolay), who has just learned of her most recent affairs and is mad at her, but with this sudden unexplained absence he misses her and wants her back - and she does go back and they're reunited the next day: hence this is a "comédie de remarriage," a comedy of remarriage, as the critic of Les Inrockuptibles Marilou Duponchel calls this film.

    Christophe Honoré, unknown to us in the American film audience, is not only a cinema auteur of note in France but has worked in the theater, and here, more than before, he alludes to that milieu, because the atmosphere of coming and goings and references to love affairs and deceptions refers to French boulevard comedy. But it's Honoré's own rarefied version, since as mentioned this isn't farce action but a night of memories and brooding conceived as boulevard comedy.

    Notably, Vincent Lacoste, who has become a surprise star (like Romain Duris) after a goofy half serious beginning - (Les beaux gosses/French Kissers, R-V 2010), plays the 25-year-old version of Richard. Lacoste may have replaced Louis Garrel as Honoré's young man muse. He played the lead very well in Honoré's last film, his moving, autobiographical Sorry Angel/Plaire, aimer et courir vite (2018), one of his best (though it lacks the charm and fantasy of earlier films like Love Songs and Dans Paris). Lacoste isn't very important here - no one person is, other than Mastroianni - but this acts as a place-marker: he probably will be back.

    Mastrioanni is central, and it's she who got the Un Certain Regard Best Actress prize, but Camille Cottin (of the Netflix series "Dix pour cent" aka "Call My Agent!") is also omnipresent as the older version of Irène Haffner, Richard's music teacher who seduced him as an adolescent.

    Honoré, with his bittersweet musicals and his gay twists on Nouvelle Vague style, has been a gift to contemporary French cinema. His films have been slow to catch on here and I remember being entranced by the wonderful Les chansons d'amour and finding others at the screening for the Rendez-Vous of that year (2008) were totally unmoved. This film did extremely well with French critics, but seems unlikely to play well here, but we shall see. I wouldn't have expected Ozon's 2002 Eight Women to do well, but it was a hit in the States. This film is light and witty and succinct (under an hour and a half) but also has layers, and I look forward to watching it again.

    One Magical Night/Chambre 212 86 mins., debuted May 2019 at Cannes in Un Certain Regard (Best Actress to Mastroianni), with 11 other French and international festival showings. Its ]French theatrical release was Oct. 9, 2019. The AlloCiné press rating was raves, 4.1 (82%),but spectators' rating is only 3.0.

    Rendez-Vous:
    Friday, March 6, 8:45pm (Q&A with Chiara Mastroianni)
    Monday, March 9, 4:15pm


    CAMILLE COTTIN, VINCENT LACOSTE, CHIARA MASTROIANNI IN CHAMBRE 212
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-10-2020 at 06:23 AM. Reason: E

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    BURNING GHOST/VIV-ARGENT (Stéphane Batut 2019)

    STÉPHANE BATUT: BURNING GHOST/VIF ARGENT (2019)


    TIMOTHÉE ROBERT IN VIF ARGENT

    Turned on, between worlds

    A dead young man moves through casting director Stéphane Batut's quietly haunting second feature. His name is Juste. The actor, Timothée Robert, is a funny kind of dead man - a tall, strapping guy, with a face like a choir boy and close-cropped hair. He can help others to "pass over," but can't himself. In the anti-chamber he can't tell a story about himself, which is one of the keys. Years later, here he is again, wandering Paris, living in a wild squat. By chance he runs into a redhead, Agathe (Judith Chemla), who thinks she recognizes him. He follows her around, and they have a night of lovemaking.

    She did know him, years before. She's older, he's not.

    All the film hovers between life and death, but toward the end. Juste has become invisible to everybody, even Agathe, though he cah blow and move her hair, and caress her. She is, or was, his first and only love, and he is reluctant to leave her, and she likewise, it turns out. Juste comes into contact with other spirits floating in and out of the corporeal. He can help them pass over. One man jumps into a cab and urges him to do so, just to get away from where they are. One remembers Juste's innocent face, sad but eager, sometimes seen in almost extreme closeups; he also gets some full frontal nudes. And when he has to run out, once, he throws on a woman's blouse that's too small for him. Does it give him corporeality? Much of the time of the film he wears a flimsy sparkly black jacket somebody calls "kitsch." Is it what give him the quality of the title, vif-argent (quicksilver)? Or does that just refer to the between-worlds uncertainty of Juste's existence?

    Surging music accompanies a memorable scene on a bridge rimmed with lines of blue light.

    I have no idea what all this means, and I'm not sure it makes logical sense. Cahier du Cinéma's critic wrote, "If this effort has charm, it is however harmed by the limitations of writing that's confused and rough." But it has its own kind or romantic mood and its lead actor's presence.

    Speaking of strange apparitions, due to coronavirus restrictions on French travel, Stéphane Batut is the only director of the 2020 Rendez-Vous film so far to appear for a Q&A after a screening, only briefly, but corporeal, a long-faced, cherubic man with soft brown eyes and a beard. It was hard coming, he said, because he was in China (China!), and he had to get here by boat (by boat?). Why did nobody ask about this? But the Lincoln Center person spirited him away, it was time for the next movie, about unruly schoolchildren in the Saint-Denis part of Paris.

    Burning Ghost/Vif-argent, 103 mins., debuted in the ACID program at Cannes devoted to promoting independent films. It won the Jean Vigo award and was nominated for the Prix Louis Delluc. Timothee Robert, who has an arresting presence, was nominated for the Lumiere Award for Most Promising Actor (Meilleure révélation masculine). French theatrical release was Aug. 28, 2019, and the AlloCine press rating was 3.5 (70%) based on 21 reviews.

    Rendez-Vous with French Cinema
    Tuesday, March 10, 1:45pm
    Friday, March 13, 6:30pm (Q&A with Stéphane Batut)

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-10-2020 at 09:33 PM.

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    SCHOOL LIFE/LA VIE SCOLAIRE (Grand Corps Malade, Mehdi Idir 2919)

    GRAND CORPS MALADE, MEHDI IDIR: SCHOOL LIFE/LA VIE SCOLAIRE (2019)


    ZITA HANROT IN SCHOOL LIFE

    A new film about a French banlieue school

    This film about another Saint Denis Paris banieue collège (middle school), centers on new vice principal, of Arab origin like a lot of the faculty, Samia (Zita Hanrot, from Paul Sanchez Is Back!), adopts a positive attitude and goes easy on discipline of students, though they constantly need it.

    Central is Yanis (Liam Pierron), a smart boy (though the actor has dead eyes) who can't decide between being academic or a hoodlum, and drifts, but gets into fights. Some of the other male students (female ones are barely delineated) are played for comedy, even when they lie and cheat. The teachers aren't treated very seriously. One teacher trades off excuses for misbehavior for dope with a student and gets caught; the history prof can't take more provocation. The maths prof, who's tough, if burnt out, befriends Samia, though she's visiting a boyfriend in jail, the reason she's come to this area, though that goes bad.

    This film is lively and colorful, but crude and unambitious, like a TV movie. It is decidedly not up to the standards of Laurent Cantet's Palme d'Or-winning The Class/Engre les murs (NYFF 2008), which sticks exclusively to what happens at school and in the classroom. The effort to take action outside the school proves not to be an improvement here and this movie seems both cynical and frivolous. It's heart is in the right place, and there are some lovely moments, like the music class when a student conducts a symphony of recorders and drums, And there's a good scene where the class's most pathological liar mistranslates all the math prof's strong criticisms in a conference to his mother into Arabic as praise, but the math prof reveals he's been secretly Arabic-speaking all along. But this movie just isn't thoughtful or original enough. Many French critics admired this new film for its sense of the energy and vitality of the personalities, but found the screenplay's outline standard and a bit lacking. It seems mired in vulgarity, which, for instance, Kehiche's pioneering Games of Love and Chance/L'esquive (2003) so clearly isn't.

    The film is directed by two slam poets, and there's one of their rhyming compositions summing things up over the closing credits that's one of the best parts.

    School Life/La vie scolaire, 111 mins., French release 28 Aug. , AlloCiné press rating 3.4 (68%). A Netflix release.

    Rendez-Vous with French Cinemaa
    Sunday, March 8, 1:00pm (Q&A with Mehdi Idir)
    Tuesday, March 10, 4:00pm
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-10-2020 at 10:14 PM.

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    PERFECT NANNY/CHANSON DOUCE (Lucie Borleteau 2019)

    LUCIE BORLETEAU: PERFECT NANNY/CHANSON DOUCE (2019)


    KARIN VIARD IN CHANSON DOUCE

    Servant trouble and story trouble

    The English title "Perfect Nanny" is deeply ironic (the original French title means "Lullaby"): this is a bad nanny thriller, a slow-burn horror story adapted from Leïla Slimani's recent Goncourt Prize bestseller, which takes off from an Upper East Side news story but which a Washington Post critic described as worthy of the elegance and complexity of Henry James's Turn of the Screw. In the original news item a nanny fatally stabbed her two children charges and then cut her own throat and that's where the novel begins. French filmmaker Lucie Borleteau saves that for the end, and rather bungles it. Peter Bradshaw calls this film "strained and unsatisfying" and notes that it "pulls its punches with the final grisly scene."

    In the event, this new French film adaption isn't as the French would say à la hauteur, quite up to the standard of its novelistic source. The trouble is the nanny from hell idea is in itself unoriginal, and there's a danger of falling into cliché if one can't achieve the delicacy of details or elegance of style of the novel source. Karin Viard is well cast as Louise, the nanny the young couple; she is the best thing about this movie. The glossy mise-en-scène is pleasing, but it can't hide a lack of originality in the storytelling in which the finer novelistic details are insufficiently highlighted. The portrait of the psycho is neither scary enough nor coherent enough and the choppy editing fails to generate suspense. For that is substituted nervousness about how clumsily the ending will be handled.

    As the story begins, Myriam (Leïla Bekhti, wife of Tahar Rahim), who trained as a lawyer, and is tired of being at home tending a toddler and young daughter, Mila. So she and her husband Paul, (Antoine Reinartz, the strained history prof of R-V 20202's School Life) a record producer, interview prospects - leading to a standard audition montage showing Louise is the one since she's white, slim, well-spoken, French, and smiles. Her references are impeccable too ( details of those might have been interesting). She takes to the children and they to her before the interview's even over.

    When Louise starts work things go well. Myriam gets back deep, perhaps too deep, back into her legal work. She and Paul enjoy their increased freedom, signaled (rather obviously) by their attending a wild party. Louise seems to be doing a great job. She goes out of her way, coming early and leaving late for her commute. It's soon clear Louise's desire to lose herself into caring for the kids is unhealthy, perhaps arising from the need to escape from an unpleasant past. She is also watching what Myriam and Paul do and disapproving. She wants to control. She becomes more and more possessive about the children, and while Miriam defends her apparent oddities, Paul is increasingly dissatisfied. All the time Louise is being reminded that even though she is welcomed and even invited along on a vacation, she is not in control, that however the two children like her she doesn't matter. And that she cannot bear.

    This kind of story is a thing of little details. Louise and Myriam clash over consuming past-expiration date yogurt: Louise hates, nay, is infuriated by wasted food. Her bosses are spoiled bourgeois, while she shows signs of earlier poverty that persists today. When extra times for Louise with Mila and Adam get cancelled, Louise is upset. Her involvement is out of proportion. Eventually she does strange and disgusting things, before the horrible one.

    The film dips in and out of Louise's point of view, and toward the end a scene of imaginary sea creatures shows she is unhinged. However, the film's handling of POV isn't very consistent. The point of several visits to Louise's humble home in the 'burbs is unclear.

    The finale is anticlimactic. Borleteau shows smoothness and competence here, but not a master's hand.

    Lucie Borleteau's first feature was Fidelio: Alice’s Odyssey (Rendez-Vous 2015) a seagoing sex tale that was somewhat inexplicable but also original. She goes more mainstream here, with mixed success.

    Perfect Nanny/Chanson douce, 100 mins. debuted Oct. 3, 2019 in Montpelier and Paris. Its French theatrical release was 27 Nov.,with an AlloCiné press rating 3.2 (64%). In the US, it is a Distrib Films release.

    Rendez-Vous with French Cinema:
    Monday, March 9, 6:15pm (Q&A with Lucie Borleteau cancelled due to the Coronavirus)
    Wednesday, March 11, 1:45pm
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-11-2020 at 09:19 PM.

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    CUTIES /MIGNONNES (Maimouna Doucouré 2020)

    MAMOUNA DOUCOURÉ: CUTIES/MIGNONNES (2020)


    FATIHA YOUSSOUF ABDILLAH (FAR RIGHT) IN MIGNONNES

    A girl beyond her age

    A few years ago the young Mamouna Doucouré was a biology student and actress. She made some notable short films, and now she has made her first feature, the portrait of Amy (Fathia Youssouf), an 11-year-old girl in Paris of Senegalese origin wavering between rebellion and cultural tradition. She gets really wild, dresses in a costume to perform in her girl group "Mignonnes" ("Cuties") in a way family adults would consider shocking and sluttish. Pivotal to the story is how these young girls don't quite understand how sexualized their tight outfits and their butt-pumping in their dance is making them. As the film ends, disenchanted with the efforts at fitting in and the dance competition, Amy comes home and is last seen jumping rope, like a young schoolgirl.

    As a portrait of vibrant multicultural young females in the banlieue, this movie obviously relates to and may draw from Céline Sciamma's ghetto-girls feature Bande de filles (vaguely retitled "Girlhood" in English). The difference is the focus here on pressure from ethnic elders. Thanks to the cinematography of Yann Maritaud, the people often look great. But for all its energy, color, and good direction of kids and non-actor adults, Cuties isn't on the level of Sciamma. Sometimes Mignonnes is as approximate as the performances of the girls' hiphop group and as uneven as the group's mismatched makeup. Best aspect of the film isn't the stuff about the group, but the rumblings of complicated family trouble. Amy's father plans on bringing a second wife into the home, with all the humiliation for her mother and derangement of household order that this impending event - which is colorfully depicted toward the end - will bring.

    Amy meets her new best friend, the bespectacled Anjelica (Médina El Aidi-Azouni), when the latter spots her dancing in the laundry room and is intrigued. The eventual result is that the shy, skinny Amy is, if somewhat uneasily, allowed - thanks to her choreographical skills - to join up with the dance group Anjelica is in called "Les Mignonnes" or the Cuties, who are already (not always plausibly) preparing for a competition. The movie heads toward the conventional structural device of the climactic competition with last minute reversals that change the dynamics of the group.

    In Cuties Doucouré has accessed and presented on screen a vibrant ethnic community not often seen in French films. Hopefully she will make future films that deserve more than onscreen click-time via Netrlix.

    Cuties/Mignonnes, 96 mins., debuted at both Sundance and Berlin in early 2020. It was also included in the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center, where it was screened for this review. In the US it is a Netflix release. French theatrical release is scheduled for Apr. 1 2020.

    Rendez-Vous with French Cinema:
    Tuesday, March 10, 6:30pm (Q&A was to have been with Maïmouna Doucouré, cancelled)
    Thursday, March 12, 2:00pm
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-17-2020 at 12:29 AM.

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    AN EASY GIRL/UNE FILLE FACILE (Rebecca Zlotowski 2019)

    REBECCA ZLOTOWSKI: AN EASY GIRL/UNE FILLE FACILE (2019)


    MINA FARID, ZAHIA DEHAR, BENOÎT MAGIMEL AND NUNO LOPEZ IN UNE FILLE FACILE

    An easy hour and a half

    Rebecca Zlotkowski's third feature, Planetarium, the one before this, was in Rendez-Vous 2017 but it was not shown to the press and I didn't review it. One should probably see her 2016 Planetariaum, cowritten by Robin Campillo of Eastern Boys and BPM. Her 2013 Grand Central was in the 2014 Rendez-Vous and attracted interest because it featured Tahar Rahim, the young breakout star of Jacques Audiard'sA Prophet, and Léa Seydoux of so many things. I don't know enough about Zlotkowski's work to provide context, but both her earlier and the new film have two hot young actors (though this time not famous ones like Rahim and Seydoux), and a well-known older actor - then, Olivier Gourmet, this time, Benoît Magimel. A minor character is Naima's gay pal Dodo (Lakdhar Dridi) who she's preparing an acting audition with that she neglects for this moment with rich and glamorous people.

    Magimel is admirably mellow and smooth here. One other thing that's clear is Zlotkowski is interested in class and sex. Here, there are two attractive young women of no particular status who briefly are taken up by two abundantly rich, leisured, and privileged men, Brazilian art collectors, we are told, on a millionaire's yacht in the Cannes harbor who can afford to offer them baubles worth a thousand euros merely for being friendly and staying on board overnight.

    This film seems slight as Grand Central, and even more richly sensuous. The setting is lush, the genre traditional: a night of love instead of a summer of love, and a summer of growing up - for the voiceover narrator, 16-year-old (she looks older, but never mind) Naima (Mina Farid), a naive Cannes local. In the wisp of a plot, She's visited by a more sophisticated cousin, Sophia (Zahia Dehar), who has a fling with the younger of the two yacht millionaires, the bearded Andres (Nuno Lopes), while Naima has a chaste evening of mentoring from the older Philippe (Magimel). Next day they are taken on the yacht to visit a rich women friend (Clotilde Courau) in Italy. Then the yacht guys go on another outing, and the girls are not invited. Naima is hurt, but Sophia takes it in stride. She understands the details of status evidently better. Later, Sophia ends her visit with Naima, and the story ends.

    Why did I enjoy this flimsy stuff? Because of something very traditional, the sensuousness of Brigitte Bardot movies, or No Sun in Venice (and Rohmerr too), the coming of age angle, the sense of luxury (this film is partly about this beautiful yacht, not a billionaire's yacht, like the one in "Succession," but a sleeker, maybe even more elegant one), and the lush sound track.

    Zahia Dehar doesn't seem quite like an actress, and isn't. She's herself a notorious former high level call girl, an "escort," she called herself, from Algeria, who became "a model, lingerie designer and actress," says an IMDb bio. It also reports that in April 2010 there was a scandal called "the Zahia case," of French footballers accused of having sex with Zahia when she was underage. Well, Sophia is presented as being more sophisticated than Naima, but not like that! One has the feeling that to some extent this film was created for Zahia, if riskily since in the event Zahia seems not just sophisticated but the worse for wear. It was better not to know about this backstory before watching the film. But Zlotowski views Sophia non-judgmentally, allowing Naima to admire her Mediterranean freedom. LIke Bardot she is something of the eternal feminine, a spirit above conventional morality. In the title's phrase, "Easy Girl," there is an intentional ambiguity, an admiration for Sophia's freedom, but awareness it looks like impropriety from a distance.

    But anyway, the story is also basically Naima's, with her voiceover, and the emotional core is her developed bond, not of love but of respect, for and from Phlippe. In the writing, the mentoring relationship between Phhilipe and Naima may not be wholly believable, but Maginel is such a smooth, confident actor he very nearly makes it work and provides the tiniest of touching moments, modeling a man who behaves respectfully toward a young woman.

    An Easy Girl/Une fille facile, 92 mins., debuted at Cannes in Directors Fortnight; its French release was Aug. 28., with an AlloCine press rating of 3.5. (70%). Reviewed here as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema. A Netflix release.

    Rendez-Vouswith French Cinema:
    Saturday, March 7, 9:00pm (Q&A with Rebecca Zlotowski)
    Thursday, March 12, 4:00pm


    LAKDHAR DRIDI AND MINA FARIDI IN AN EASY GIRL
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-14-2020 at 06:54 PM.

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