“Frantz”, a Story of Heartbreak and Atonement

 

Filled with mixed emotions the movie Frantz takes to art houses this weekend in the South Florida area. Nicely directed and co-written by Francois Ozon noted French filmmaker the movie entrances as it slowly spools out the big screen. Heartwarming and heartbreaking the story gives the feel of what many families experienced following the end of World War I. Read more

LE HAVRE, A Compassionate Indie

 

One of the better foreign films to be released in the US, Le Havre makes a statement about human rights.  I like the way the movie presents the characters, moves the story along and ends on an upbeat note.  If you love movies that put some heart into the storyline, then go see Le Havre.

 

Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) an illegal alien delivered to the French port of Le Havre in a shipping container and finds himself in the wrong European city and being pursued by Monet (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) a relentless policeman. By chance the African youngster crosses the path of Marcel Marx (André Wilms), a careworn shoeshine man who decides to help the boy on the run.  With support from his community Marcel sets forward a plan to get Idrissa to England.  When Monet gets wind of it, the two have to face the possible consequences.

 

Marcel Marx (André Wilms) and Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) in LE HAVRE

The compassionate film shows that people have the selflessness to help those that are unfortunate in circumstances that put lives at risk.  Director Aki Kaurismaki (Man Without a Past), known for his filmmaking that involves the hardships of people, puts Idrissa in a situation that’s a hot topic  in America today.  It’s a poignant story that puts forth a lot of questions and with his heartfelt film shows how one man’s gets answered.

 

The film gets played out quickly, developing characters like Marcel, his wife Arletty (Kati Outinen) and others in his community showing the simple life they are living. With the opening of the shipping container and the sight of the people inside, Kaurismaki introduces the problem, and with the exception of Idrissa who escapes, he sets their fate.  With Idrissa, however, Kaurismaki takes his destiny and survival and puts them into the hands one very special man.

 

Le Havre has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains some peril.  The film is presented in the French Language with English Subtitles.

 

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A passionate look at life on the run. (B)

 

 

 

 

MY AFTERNOONS WITH MARGUARITTE, CAPTIVATING

Sweet, charming and touching My Afternoons with Margueritte has what it takes when it comes to entertainment value.  What makes the film so good comes from the acting of Girard Depardieu, Gisèle Casadesus and fine directing by Jean Becker.  If you prefer a film that has excellent acting with a loving script then My Afternoons with Margueritte is your French strawberry croissant.

 

The story follows Germain (Gérard Depardieu) a simple 50-year-old sole who is treasured by the villagers of a traditional French rural town. Germain feels unloved by his argumentative mother (Claire Maurier) who allows him to live in a trailer in the rear of her home.  Helpful, honest yet sometimes boisterous, Germain goes about his everyday routine that includes a visit to the local tavern where he likes being the center of attraction.

 

Germain (Dipardeau) playing cards at a local taveran

One day on his way to his spot to feed the pigeons in the local park he spies an elderly lady (Margueritte- Gisèle Casadesus) sitting on his favorite bench. Quick to argue, Germain makes it known to Margueritte that she is interrupting an important task.  After a tête-à-tête Germain forgives her and settles in counting each of his feathered friends.  When Margueritte returns the following day at the same bench, Germain starts to worry about the relationship he has started.

 

Depardieu plays the kind but conflicted Germain with aplomb showing how the man has unfulfilled the life he wanted.  Brooding sometimes about his father, arguing with his mother over trivial things, Depardieu shows how this illiterate person takes life one day at a time.  When he meets Margueritte, an intelligent well-read woman nearing the end of her days, Depardieu starts to adjust his character to show a better outlook on life.

 

Germain and Margueritte (Gisèle Casadesus) in the park

In support, Casadesus (96-years young in real life) puts on a superb performance as the 90-year-old woman who can use her charm to tame even the gruffest man, even if he happens to be in the right.  I like the way Casadesus maneuvers her character to change the Germain’s outlook.  She works on him each day until they come to an agreement that changes Germain’s life, and hers. There is truly wonderful chemistry between Casadesus and Depardieu making My Afternoons with Margueritte an endearing prize.

 

Controlled direction by Becker of the strong willed Depardieu makes the film work.  His ability to get the talkative thespian to focus his eloquent ability in the development of the kindly Germain puts him on top of my French directors list.  Making the film charming yet not maudlin, Becker finds reality in every scene, even when Germain’s mother berates him during a poignant argument.

 

The film has not been rated by the MPAA but I found very little content that may be considered offensive.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A superb little film with a lot of heart. (A)


THE NAMES OF LOVE, LIBERALLY FRENCH

 

The French really know how to make a lighthearted sexy comedy and the proof comes in a very funny and provocative film called The Names of Love.  Although complicated as most French comedies are, the quirky little film puts on a good show.

 

Do you remember the days when young people were running around in nearly nothing and chanting, “make love not war”? Well if you do then you’ll fall into the audience category for which this movie takes aim.

 

Baya (Sara Forestier) and Arthur (Jacques Gamblin)

Baya’s (Sara Forestier) a single young outgoing, kinda overly sexual liberal that has found a way to solve her political woes, seduce her rivals and convert them to her way of thinking.  Working her way though some very big political names and receiving excellent results, Baya’s on top of the world.  Everything she touches turns in her favor, up until she meets Arthur (Jacques Gamblin), an older man who has made exceptional strides in the scientific community.  Although a fence walker when it comes to politics, Baya still wants Arthur as one of her trophies.  When she finds out that they have a few too many things in common, things start to get complicated.

 

Director Michel Leclerc does a fine job of helping Forestier put together an outstanding performance as the uninhibited girl that takes French lascivious humor to another level.  The comely Forester burns up the screen showing off her beautiful frame and then some.  Boldly she’s Baya and every sly look, prim walk and confident gesture is projected on the screen for all to see.  It’s a gaping mouth voyeuristic film depicting the bliss for which the French are known.

Baya (Sara Forestier) at the beach in THE NAMES OF LOVE

But, Forestier wouldn’t have given the performance of her life had she not been opposite Gamblin who gives her the naive Arthur who doesn’t have a clue that he’s corralled Baya one of the hottest items in Paris.  But it’s not all romance and sex, the film gloats on several issues that challenges the minds of the modern day world, including anti-Semitism, Arab-Jewish relationships, immigration, and cultural identity.

 

The Names of Love is rated R and includes adult situations, nudity, sexuality and language.  The spoken language is French with English Subtitles.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A very good movie for lovers and art film enthusiasts. (B)