Alliance Française; French Film Festival

For those of you who aren’t religiously observant of my instagram and snapchat story, you may not know the obsession I have with going to the movies! I’ll see practically anything, for the experience, for the judgement, for the escapism.. I love films and can’t get enough. So much so I studied a degree in film when I was at university, and will hopefully return to my passion of directing movies.

For the mean time, I’m left with attending every film and film festival I can sink my teeth into. I’ve decided that after every film festival I’ll write my take on each film I saw, my overall experience of the festival, and little hilarious (well in my head) anecdotes that occur. If you’re wanting a more up to date review of my feelings towards each film – I’m usually posting something directly after the film on my instagram story with a brief summary, review, and score out of 5.

Last week marked the end of the undeniably decadent French Film Festival, where I was lucky enough to attend 10 screenings of very different films. Below is a brief summary (Spoilers), review, and my experience of some of the more memorable films (Not necessarily a good thing)…

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The Odyssey; By Jérôme Salle…
The opening night film was this majestic beauty. I’ve always known French cinema to have such a strong cinematographic voice, but this film surpassed even my own expectations. Such striking imagery with scene after scene leaving me awe-inspired. The Odyssey examines thirty years in the life of oceanographer, scientist, inventor and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Although capturing my affinity for beautiful cinematography, what this film lacked was that element that grabs you and takes you on the journey. The pivotal emotional climax when Cousteau (Played by the ever-so-brilliant Lambert Wilson) discovers his youngest son, and collaborator has died in a plane crash, I was left simply watching, and not caring. In my opinion, the film’s hero (besides Pierre Niney’s face) was Audrey Tautou’s stellar performance as Cousteau’s wife Simone. I found her characterisation had such depth, and would’ve been far more interested in her character’s story. The irony of  the night was upon exiting the film; dressed in a red woollen beanie, royal blue rain coat, and striped tee, I was met with audience members asking did I dress in theme of the film, wearing Cousteau’s signature ensemble. The answer, as much as I would’ve like it to be, was no.

 

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A Bun in the Oven; By Nadège Loiseau…

The closing night film of the festival was my unexpected favourite of all the films I saw. This film depicts the hilarious trials and tragic tribulations of a 49-year-old mother-to-be reluctantly taking care of her rather extraordinary family. This was genius! A film that strangely encapsulates the spectrum of emotions whilst dealing with pregnancy in an already difficult existence. Karin Viard (Playing protagonist Nicole) is tremendous, trying to work out her life that is seemingly in absolute shambles… and then you through a pregnancy on it and voila, chaos ensues. This ensemble led narrative is so well told and so very well performed by a very kooky cast of breakout french stars, I can’t recommend seeing this film enough. Bring tissues, and prepare for a night of laughter and crying.. yeah it does that.

 

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Slack Bay; By Bruno Dumont…

Although I saw this film weeks ago, I can honestly say I still have no idea what the fuck went on. From what I can gather, the film set in a tiny French coastal town depicts a detective mystery across an overtly disparate class system, and plays with the idea, what if working class serviceman became cannibals and began eating the rich and ridiculous. This film is like a travelling circus, it has it all; cannibalism, incest humour, sporadic moments of human flight, helium filled policeman, an ancient Egyptian villa… Every 10-15 minutes people left the cinema, and I wasn’t surprised. It’s as if moment after moment the director was aiming to frustrate the audience, wanting them one by one to leave their seat the moment they had had enough of the chaotic quirkiness on screen. I’m all for the absurd, and melodramatic hysteria, by Slack Bay leaves functionality at the door, and simply asks the question ‘why not’ over and over.
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The Dancer; By Stéphanie Di Giusto…

Special Mention goes to this stunningly euphoric film, that reinvigorated my love and appreciation for dance as an art form. The beauty in production design, costuming, choreography and casting makes this a beautifully made telling of french Dance pioneer and Performance artist Loïe Fuller (Played but the gritty and raw Soko, love her) and Fuller’s ultimate rival with young dance ingénue Isadora Duncan (Played by the visually striking but lacklustre Lily-Rose Depp). The set and costumes in this production make you hold your breath, and visually this film is one to watch, Just admire the astounding work of the film’s cinematographer, Benoît Debie.

 

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