Played by real-life 15-year-old Sandrine Bonnaire, À Nos Amours is every bit as explicit as you might fear. I've been told, as a father with a young daughter, that the film Thirteen would scare the pants off of me. Thirteen is Kool-Aid compared to this. À Nos Amours is a punch in the stomach after a fifth of whiskey, a horrorshow of sexuality where it simply shouldn't be.
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Robert Bresson's final film, L'Argent, follows a similar path, at least for a while. Only this time the bill is French, counterfeit, and destined to bring nothing good to those who encounter it.
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When I say "peaceful" I don't necessarily mean "reconciled." In Fanny and Alexander Bergman sums up the themes of a body of work in which the director often brought audiences to the edge of the abyss and invited them to contemplate the void; and here, using a child as his stand-in, Bergman illustrates very clearly how it is that this void found its genesis and why it can never quite be filled. The difference is that the dilemma of existence in Fanny and Alexander is shown through a child's eyes (Bergman seldom used children elsewhere) and it's suffused with the magic of childhood curiosity and discovery. The child, like Bergman, will grow to be an artist; the director says that tragedies like those that befall Alexander are a necessary part of that.
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With a running time of two hours, Tosca might feel a little small and slight for opera lovers. The melodramatic plot is easy to follow, a bodice-ripping tragedy about doomed painter Mario Cavaradossi (Roberto Alagna) shielding a political prisoner from a relentless police investigator, Scarpia (Ruggero Raimondi). When Mario's jealous mistress Tosca (Angela Gheorghiu) starts to believe Mario has been keeping the company of another woman, the blonde Mary Magdeline he's been painting for their church, she turns him in. But Scarpia demands more from her, making arrangements to spare Mario's life if in return Tosca sleeps with him. This results in a series of violent betrayals, murders, and tearful confessions.
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Horty becomes fascinated with the woman and invents a romance between them, telling this story to everyone back home, including his girlfriend Zoe (the uniquely UNappealing Bohringer). The stories get so wild as to include champagne being poured all over the chambermaid!
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