Sunday, May 31, 2015

One weekend, three movies

For the first time in months I got out my tablet and scrolled through Netflix to see if there was anything decent to watch. Honestly I find Netflix offers such a paucity of independent and foreign films - and lack of just interesting movies generally - that I hardly ever think about going to the website. But alas a weekend with some hours on my hands and next to nothing to see at the theatres, so why not. As it turns out both the foreign movies I watched were in French. Netflix offers very little of any other kind…… In any case, first up was The Face of Love (2013), not French but American and starring a couple of more than credible actors - Annette Bening and Ed Harris. Even the late great Robin Williams puts in an appearance as a sad sack neighbour who, to me, in a mood that presaged his suicide. Roger Stillman directed. On the surface the idea behind this film didn’t seem very credible. Nikki’s (Bening) first husband (Harris as Garrett) drowns. So distraught over his death, even years later, she falls in love with a man who appears to be his double (Harris of course as Tom). Only it’s not Tom she’s in love with but the image of her late husband. Tom has many talents not least of which he’s a great artist. We never learn what Garrett’s attributes were. But how likely is it to meet someone looking exactly like your ex beau? Yet the film transcends this unbelievability to serve up a lesson on the superficiality of false obsession…..Then it was the two French films…..The first (French-Swiss), Love is the Perfect Crime (2013), directed by Arnaud Larrieu and Jean-Marie Larrieu and starring Mathieu Amalric as Marc. Marc is a college creative writing instructor (and of course admitted failed author) and womanizer though it’s more like women fling themselves on him. This film suffers from wildly unwieldy direction, and it’s way too long.  You have to pinch yourself to realize there’s a murder investigation going on. Nevertheless Amalric is always interesting and the scenes of Lausanne provide a nice backdrop……Finally in Paris Follies (Marc Fitoussi, 2014) two of France’s long time leading stars, Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Pierre Darroussin, combine in this comedy-drama about the boredom that can creep into long time marriages. Brigitte (Huppert) and Xavier (Darrousin) are cattle farmers in Normandy. But the day to day irritations that can creep into domesticity prove just a bit too much. Brigitte needs a release and pretends she’s going to Paris (picture above) to see a doctor. Instead she tries hooking up with a man decades her junior whom she met at a recent party. But eventually she enjoys the overnight companionship of a sophisticated Dane. This really is a character study focussed on Brigitte. And Huppert, seasoned professional that she is, brings off the role effortlessly. One scene in particular - it lasts an astonishing 40 seconds - is a close up of Brigitte after she discovers her husband had been trailing her in Paris. You can almost imagine the thoughts running through her head with the slight movement of her eyes and face, with eventual tears welling up. It’s magnificent.

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