French Cinema

That Obscure Object of Desire, 1977

The opening sequence of That Obscure Object of Desire has come to define the surreal, sardonic humor of the great director, Luis Buñuel. Before leaving for his trip, Mathieu (Fernando Rey), a wealthy middle-aged businessman, methodically orders his valet to burn everything in the room that is associated with a certain woman. On his way… read more »

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, 1972

The guests arrive at the Senechal home for a dinner party, only to discover that the invitation had been given for the following evening. This miscommunication proves to be the first in a series of unusual events that invariably prevent the Thevenots (Paul Frankeur and Delphine Seyrig), the Senechals (Jean-Pierre Cassel and Stephane Audran), Don… read more »

Belle de jour, 1967

Belle de Jour is a provocative and emotionally complex film about sexual inhibition, liberation, and obsession. Highly controversial, critically acclaimed, and even banned for its mature subject matter, Belle de Jour is an artistic and surprisingly tactful and discreet film, operating on a level that is suggestive and erotic without gratuitous titillation. Severine (Catherine Deneuve),… read more »

Purple Noon, 1960

Purple Noon is a taut, intelligently written, and well crafted film about an amoral criminal. Tom Ripley (Alain Delon), commissioned to find and bring home an old school acquaintance named Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet), the errant son of a wealthy San Francisco businessman, is quickly seduced by the lifestyle of the idle rich. Without independent… read more »

Forbidden Games, 1952

Forbidden Games is a simple, yet deeply affecting story about loss and the ravages of war. Filmed from the perspective of children, René Clément juxtaposes the innocence of youth with the insight of maturity. The result is a powerful and unrelenting film that operates on a purely visceral level – from the haunting theme to… read more »

All the Fine Promises (Toutes ces belles promesses), 2003

Channeling the understated and incisive relational observations of Eric Rohmer, refracted through the magical realist convergences of Raul Ruiz’s voluptuous living memories, and bifurcated through Hong Sang-soo’s situational parallelisms, All the Fine Promises is a gorgeously rendered, lyrical encapsulation of Jean-Paul Civeyrac’s aesthetic modulations between physicality and sensuality, dreams and reality, memory and desire. Ostensibly… read more »

Fantômes, 2001

On the surface, Jean-Paul Civeyrac’s Fantômes unfolds with a sense of haunted, supernatural disequilibrium that similarly infuses Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s atmospheric, tonal cinema. In the film’s opening sequence, a young acting student, Mouche (Dina Ferreira) stares out the window of an empty room and wistfully implores her absent lover, Bruno (Olivier Boreel) to return. Alone with… read more »

Persecution, 2009

The themes explored in Patrice Chéreau’s probing, tightly constructed Persecution are prefigured in the film’s disorienting (and quintessentially Chéreau) opening sequence. Scanning from one anonymous commuter to another, a panhandler makes her way through a crowded train before someone makes inopportune eye contact, and she responds by slapping her face. The episode intrigues a bystander,… read more »

The Flower of Evil, 2003

François (Benoit Magimel) has returned to France after living in Chicago for the past three years to find that, despite his father Gérard’s (Bernard Le Coq) intriguing intimations, little has changed in the petit bourgeois household of the Charpin-Vasseurs. His determined stepmother Anne (Nathalie Baye) has channeled her energy towards a mayoral candidacy, against the… read more »

La Cérémonie, 1995

A young woman named Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) is interviewed for a housekeeping position at the country estate of Catherine Lelievre (Jacqueline Bisset) and her family. Sophie is enigmatically succinct in her answers, but her references are highly complimentary, and she is immediately offered the job. However, from the onset, it is evident that there is… read more »