DIVERSITY OF FRENCH CINEMA
20 & 27 SEPTEMBER AND 4, 18 & 25 OCTOBER
With the support of IFCinéma - Institut français
All movies with English subtitles
|Tuesday 20th September - 6:30 pm
L’Arbre by Julie Bertuccelli
2010, 1h40min, Drama, Fiction
Dawn and Peter O’Neil live together with their children (three boys and a girl), on the outskirts of a small country town. Next to their rambling house stands the kids’ favourite playground: a giant Moreton Bay Fig tree (now known in real-life as the Teviotville Tree), whose branches reach high towards the sky and roots stretch far into the ground.
Everything seems perfect until Peter suffers a heart attack, crashing his car into the tree’s trunk. Dawn is devastated, left alone with her grief and four children to raise. Until one day, 8-year-old Simone, reveals a secret to her mother. She’s convinced her father whispers to her through the leaves of the tree and he’s come back to protect them. Dawn takes comfort from Simone’s imagination, and starts to believe in it herself; just like Simone, Dawn also likes to spend time in the tree. It starts to dominate their physical and emotional landscape. But the close bond between mother and Simone forged through a mutual sorrow and shared secret, is threatened by the arrival of George, the plumber, called in to remove the tree’s troublesome roots. As the relationship between Dawn and George blossoms, the tree continues to grow, with its branches infiltrating the house, its roots destroy the foundations. Dawn decides the tree has to go…
|Tuesday 27th September - 6:30 pm
Bancs publics (Versailles Rive Droite) by Bruno Podalydès
2009, 1h55min, Comedy, Fiction
We watch as Lucie, obviously a commuter, goes to work one morning. It is a complicated affair where several changes must be made. Once at her office, which she shares with two other women, they idle their down time with different activities on line like games, dating services and other trivial matters. As the blinds from their window are raised, the ladies notice a banner proclaiming ’Man Alone" on the balcony of the building across the street. What could the message mean? The office is full of speculations as most of the employees have seen the banner.
The scene changes to a park near where the office is located. Most of the employees go to have lunch at the park, Lucie included. We watch an assortment of characters enjoying the balmy afternoon at a tranquil setting. Among the visitors we find some fellows from a nearby hardware store, much like Home Depot. One man in particular, Aime, was asked by his boss to hand out the weekly circular advertising special sales, but he entertains himself making paper airplanes. One of those lands in front of Lucie, who looks directly at Aime.
The third part of the story is set inside the store. Aime, who shows signs of depression, loves to drink a liquid that is added to fish tanks. He and his fellow workers show an enormous ineptitude to help the customers that come searching for different tools and gizmos. Lucie comes in looking for a present for a retiring woman at the office. She wants gold fish to add to one of the presents for Mme. Renivelle. In the middle of the celebration, Lucie looks across the street and sees light inside the "Man Alone" apartment. In her heart she has a hunch she knows who is the dweller.
A good comedy by director Bruno Podalydes with a cast of what could be a Who’s Who in the French cinema. This is a sort of a comic opera in three acts with whimsical overtones. First, there is the concern about what desperation the man that wrote the banner must be feeling. Not able to solve the puzzle, life intervenes in different forms. The only negative thing about the film is that most of the actors have a limited time on screen and some vignettes are not as fully developed as the others. Despite that, the comedy is fun to watch.
Florence Muller and Denis Podalydes are the actors that have the bigger parts out of the many luminaries that grace the screen with their individual cameo appearances. There are too many to just mention one. The ensemble acting the director gets from the large cast is remarkable. One can imagine the fun in the set as the film was made.
|Tuesday 4th October - 6:30 pm
De bon matin by Jean-Marc Moutout
2011, 1h33min, Drama, Fiction
Paul Wertret (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) goes to work as usual, enters a meeting room and shoots two of his bosses before locking himself in his office. As he awaits the inevitable police assault, he reflects on the events that led him to commit murder.
Nobody can deny that most films are made for local audiences by keeping ideas, audiences’ sensibilities and tastes which have a strong bearing on a specific geographic location. It can be a film about a city, region or even a nation. However, there are times when some films come with such strong content that they end up defying this very classification as their subject matter might be local but their impact is in many ways global as well as universal.
By directing "De Bon Matin", French director Jean-Marc Moutout has made one such film which questions the unethical work environment in banking sector which pushes a French executive to exterminate his harasser. "De Bon Matin" is effective on a global level as it depicts corrupt banking practices which can be found in any nation with a banking system. One gets to see corrupt officials, workers with cowardice marked on their faces and even some management puppets who make futile efforts to influence honest executives. As the film progresses, it is clear that it is not merely the killing of a man by another man which is questioned but there is a constant interrogation of slaying of beliefs, emotions and ideas.
This film is very relevant to contemporary French society which has witnessed many suicides by office executives in recent past. Lastly, actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin adds one more successful acting lesson in his role book with his portrayal of a lonely man who chose violence as the ultimate solution as he did not receive any solace in his times of grief from people who knew him well.
|Tuesday 18th October - 6:30 pm
Adama by Simon Rouby
2015, 1h25min, Animation
12 year-old Adama lives in a remote village in West Africa, sheltered by the Cliffs. Out, beyond, lies "the land of breaths", the kingdom of wicked spirits hungry for war. When Samba, his elder brother, suddenly vanishes from the village, Adama decides to set off in search of him. Accompanied first by Abdou, a tragically lucid griot, then by Maximin, a street urchin who is his own negative twin, he crosses a Europe in the grip of war. We’re in 1914. Borne by the energy of desperation and the poetry of childhood, Adama travels to the hell of the frontline in order to free his brother. Ultimately, Adama’s love for his brother will open an unexpected way to his initiatory journey.
|Tuesday 25th October - 6:30 pm
L’Enlèvement de Michel Houellebecq by Guillaume Nicloux
2014, 1h33min, Comedy
The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq (French: L’enlèvement de Michel Houellebecq) is a 2014 French comedy-drama film directed by Guillaume Nicloux, starring Michel Houellebecq, Mathieu Nicourt, Maxime Lefrançois and Luc Schwarz. It tells the story of how the famous author Michel Houellebecq is kidnapped and held for ransom by three men during a promotional tour in 2011.
The film was inspired by a rumour which occurred while Houellebecq was promoting his novel The Map and the Territory. For some time, he appeared to give no signs of life, which made newspapers in France speculate that he had been kidnapped. In reality he only had some trouble with his Internet connection. The film premiered at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival where it played in the Forum section.