Rendez-vous with French Cinema

Tomorrow We Move, 2003

In the film’s droll, double entendred opening sequence, a breathless woman, Catherine (Aurore Clément), speaks off camera in dulcet, anxious tone as she provides a series of guiding, seemingly appetent directions against the image of a grand piano craned precariously overhead, culminating with a stray tear that falls from her cheek at the point of… read more »

Chouchou, 2003

A patently offbeat and whimsical confection, Merzak Allouache’s Chouchou recalls the more predictably rocambolesque, light comedies of Francis Veber (particularly, La Cage aux Folles), as a displaced foreigner named Choukri (Gad Elmaleh), nicknamed Chouchou by his late mother, claiming to be a Chilean political exile (albeit anachronistically after the fall of Augusto Pinochet), finds refuge… read more »

Grey Souls, 2005

During the introductory remarks for Grey Souls, Yves Angelo commented that perhaps the most enduring lesson that had remained with author Philippe Claudel during his years spent working as a prison guard while writing his acclaimed novel was the idea that in such an environment, no one can be completely trusted. This sense of pervasive… read more »

Clean, 2004

Olivier Assayas’ latest film, Clean, is a sincere, well-intentioned, and technically proficient, but uncharacteristically trite and formulaic portrait of a drug-addicted, washed up celebrity and recent widow named Emily Wang (Maggie Cheung) who, having lost custody of her son Jay (James Dennis) to her Canadian in-laws, Albrecht (Nick Nolte) and Rosemary Hauser (Martha Henry) while… read more »

Le Petit Lieutenant, 2005

Part police procedural and part character study of the camaraderie of detective work, Xavier Beauvois evokes the unsentimentality and objective, cinéma vérité-styled painstaking observation of Maurice Pialat – with similar conflicted results – in his latest film Le Petit Lieutenant. The titular rookie investigator is Antoine (Jalil Lespert), a prototypical provincial cop from Normandy eager… read more »

Ambitious, 2006

In an early episode in Catherine Corsini’s dark romantic comedy, Ambitious, a timid, aspiring writer book shop owner named Julien (Eric Caravaca) discreetly, but deliberately, foists his recently finished autofiction manuscript on unsuspecting friend and perennial store patron, Mathieu Séchard (Renan Carteaux), the son of a renowned literary publishing house director in Paris, and immediately… read more »

Bellamy, 2009

In hindsight, the establishing shot of Claude Chabrol’s Bellamy showing a relaxed Paul Bellamy (Gérard Depardieu) trying to solve a crossword puzzle while on vacation at a well appointed country estate in Nîmes – an apparent compromise in destination from his wife, Françoise’s (Marie Bunel) suggestions to take a more exotic trip – serves as… read more »

The Bridesmaid, 2004

When the attractive widow Christine (Aurore Clément) asks her children for permission to offer a statue in their garden – a gift from their late father – as a housewarming present to her new beau Gérard Courtois (Bernard Le Coq), the eldest child, Philippe (Benoît Magimel) appears visibly disconcerted by the proposal, but nevertheless acquiesces… read more »

La Moustache, 2005

Popular novelist and first-time filmmaker Emmanuel Carrère takes a decidedly more affirming and compassionate adaptation of his twenty-year old dark, psychological novel on obsession, identity, and alienation for his debut feature, La Moustache. While getting ready for a dinner party with mutual friends, a comfortably settled, middle-aged married man and successful architect named Marc (Vincent… read more »

Vers le sud, 2005

Set in 1970s Haiti under the post-colonial repressive regimes of François and Jean-Claude Duvalier, Vers le sud provides an incisive and provocative recontextualization of cultural imperialism as neocolonialism – specifically, in its economic manifestation – as Westerners, particularly middle-aged women, converge in an idyllic seaside resort where handsome, native young men from the slums of… read more »