Reuniting with filmmaker Philippe Claudel (I've Loved You So Long), Kristin Scott Thomas delivers yet another brittle, understated performance as a woman who isn't always likeable but is hugely sympathetic. But even though the film is beautifully made, it's also elusive, never quite making it clear what the point is.
Scott Thomas plays Lucie, the glamorous wife of the noted Paris surgeon Paul (Daniel Auteuil). They live in a strikingly modern home in a leafy suburb, where they indulge in lavish gardening projects and spoil the adorable baby daughter of their son Victor (Jerome Varanfrain) and his wife Caroline (Vicky Krieps). After flirting with waitress Lou (Leila Bekhti), Paul starts receiving daily deliveries of roses to his home, office and hospital, which unnerves him thoroughly. He also keeps spotting Lou around town, begging her to stop sending flowers. But is it her? Of course, Lucie can see that something fishy is going on, but she has her own issues as she's constantly pursued by Paul's business partner Gerard (Richard Berry). And Victor and Caroline's marriage is just as strained.
All of these plot-threads and more swirl around to make the film darkly involving. And through it all is a current of resentment, mainly because the characters refuse to confirm their suspicions by asking someone for the truth. Auteuil and Scott Thomas can play this kind of repressed bitterness in their sleep, saying volumes with the tiniest flicker of their eyes. This adds a remarkable depth to the film's layered plotting, partly because it's clear that even they don't understand why they're reacting the way they do.
Continue reading: Before The Winter Chill Review
In rural pre-War France, Pascal is a widower (Auteuil) with six daughters. The oldest is 18-year-old Patricia (Berges-Frisbey), who's starting to notice boys.
She's reluctant about a plan to fix her up with Pascal's employee Felipe (Merad), and instead flirts shamelessly with Jacques (Duvauchelle), a dashing pilot who literally sweeps her off her feet. But her secret courtship with Jacques doesn't go as planned. Then war breaks out and both men are called to battle, leaving Patricia pregnant. And Jacques' parents (Azema and Darroussin) don't want to know.
Continue reading: The Well-digger's Daughter Review
Francois is stunned to discover that he has no friends, not one. At a bustling restaurant dinner with many of his colleagues, the topic comes up, and each one of them makes it clear in no uncertain terms that while they may work with him, they don't like him and never have. Even his business partner Catherine (Julie Gayet) feels that the only thing he really loves is a good deal on an antique. Nonsense, says Francois, I have lots of friends, don't I?
Continue reading: My Best Friend Review
It all starts with a poor valet named Francois Pignon (Gad Elmalah), who wants to be the knight-in-shining-armor to his longtime friend and crush Emile (Virginie Ledoyen). Emile needs money to keep open her quaint little bookshop, money that Francois is sadly without. Enter Mr. Levasseur (the great Daniel Auteuil), a philandering corporate dud, and Elena (stunner Alice Taglioni), his model girlfriend, who get photographed together by accident, with Pignon right next to them. The scheme gets thick: The businessman will stake the dough for Emile's store if Francois pretends to be the model's lowly boyfriend. The tent for the media circus is quickly erected as Christine (Kristen Scott Thomas), the businessman's loaded wife, mounts her own investigation into the validity of the relationship.
Continue reading: The Valet Review
Extremely well-made, Jean de Florette is director Claude Berri's finest work, a touching tale that is simple and succinct while not devolving into a confusing and minimalist mess. Depardieu and Auteuil are at their height as actors, and Berri's widescreen panoramas of the beautiful -- yet unforgiving -- French countryside are unforgettable.
Continue reading: Jean De Florette Review
The story owes a debt on some level to that greatest of cinematic voyeurs, Hitchcock, whose corpulent presence seems constantly in the filmmaker's mind. Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil plays Anne and Georges Laurent, a perfectly respectable married example of the modern Paris intelligentsia. She works for a publisher where she can set her own hours, while he hosts a literary TV talk show. They have a nice little flat and a nice son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). This is all filled in later, however, as the first thing we see is a static shot of the Laurent household which turns out to be a videotape Anne and Georges are watching which had been left on their doorstep with no explanation. Someone simply set up a videocamera across from their flat and filmed it for hours on end. Things escalate, of course, with tapes mysteriously appearing, soon with childlike drawings attached, of a face spitting blood, a chicken getting its head cut off. Someone starts calling for Georges, sending the tapes to his work, sending the notes to Pierrot at school. And there is no demand, no message, no anything but the constant surveillance and the feeling (soon proven) that the watcher knows more than the Laurents would like about themselves and their past, especially Georges'.
Continue reading: Caché Review
Manon carries with her the knowledge that Ugolin and Papet indirectly killed her father by sealing off his spring, so when she discovers the mountainous source of the spring -- and the water for the nearby town -- she returns the favor in kind. Alas, poor Ugolin finds himself falling in love with the wispy wanderer, leaving him dying both from thirst and a broken heart.
Continue reading: Manon Of The Spring Review
In 1849, we find ourselves on a French island colony near the Canadian coast, a cold and inhospitable land with few inhabitants. In a night of drunkenness, Auguste (Emir Kusturica) and his friend kill a local man. Auguste is sentenced to die. The only problem -- there's no guillotine on the island, and no executioner either.
Continue reading: The Widow Of Saint-Pierre Review
You really have to give it up for Antoine. Not only does he put up the hangdog Louis at the apartment Antoine shares with his girlfriend, Christine (Marilyne Canto), he also lands him a gig as a sommelier at his restaurant -- a job that the bumbling Louis is woefully unqualified for (and something the movie milks its fair share of laughs from). In spite of his employer's disgust at Louis' performance, Antoine's resolve is rock solid. It's only when he crosses paths with Blanche (Sandrine Kiberlain), the freckled and long-legged florist that Louis continues to carry a torch for, that he begins to crumble. Antoine and Blanche's immediate chemistry spills into their separate lives, threatening to founder Antoine's relationship with Christine, not to mention the still-pining Louis' mental stability. The swing of the plot's emotional pendulum leads to romantic contretemps that are funny without sacrificing the movie's essential heart and humanism.
Continue reading: Après Vous Review
Although Francis Veber's "The Closet" is billed as a comedy, it's not clear at first what sense of humor it might have. The prolific French director has been known to make screwball comedies ("Le jouet"), social commentary comedies ("La cage aux folles") and even cruel, dark comedies ("Le diner des cons," aka "The Dinner Game").
Since "The Closet" is about a miserably-divorced, middle-aged, middle-management sad sack (Daniel Auteuil), all the early indicators pointed to it being one of those melancholy, sad-clown French comedies that have a tendency to become quickly tiresome.
Auteuil wakes up the morning after learning he's about to be fired and stares dejectedly out his large kitchen window like nothing more could go wrong in his life.
Continue reading: The Closet (Le Placard) Review
Reuniting with filmmaker Philippe Claudel (I've Loved You So Long), Kristin Scott Thomas delivers yet...
For his directing debut, actor Auteuil remakes Marcel Pagnol's 1940 classic into a twisty, involving...
After a lifetime of carefully calibrating small-idea comedies, French director Francis Veber hits his biggest...