Emilie Dequenne

Emilie Dequenne

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Our Children [A Perdre la Raison] Review


Extraordinary

One of the most unsettling movies of the year, this sharply made drama shifts inexorably from blissful romance to something darkly horrific. It's so understated that it might alienate audiences who want everything carefully explained to them. But the problem is that we understand far too well why the story goes where it goes, and that makes it even more haunting.

Based on a true story, the film opens with a brief glimpse of a terrible family tragedy before flashing back to happier times. Now living in Belgium, Moroccan-born Mounir (Rahim) has a whirlwind romance with Murielle (Dequenne). After they get married, they move in with Mounir's friend Andre (Arestrup), a doctor who married Mounir's sister (Raoui) so she could get a European visa. As Mounir and Murielle have four children in quick succession, she struggles with their domestic situation, longing for a family home of their own. She even offers to move to Morocco to live near Mounir's mother (Belal). But Andre seems to have some strange hold over Mounir.

As the years pass, Murielle's quiet desperation grows inexorably, although the film's audience seem to be the only ones who notice. Dequenne's performance is a masterful depiction of submerged emotion as she struggles to quietly cope with Andre's passive-aggression and Mounir's cultural machismo. So as the tension rises, we react like her, clinging to happier moments and possibilities rather than face up to the raw facts. This wouldn't work as well as it does without the superior work from Rahim and Arestrup, who previously starred together memorably in A Prophet. They cleverly refuse to let their characters drift into any sort of stereotype.

Continue reading: Our Children [A Perdre la Raison] Review

The Girl on the Train [La Fille du RER] Review


Excellent
This understated drama really gets under the skin through vivid characters and situations. Finely skilled direction and acting makes it vividly real, like an extremely low-key thriller that grabs hold and won't let go.

Skater girl Jeanne (Dequenne) lives in a Paris suburb with her helpful mum Louise (Deneuve). When meets another skater, Franck (Duvauchelle), their romance develops quickly. And she decides to move in with him rather than take an offered job as a secretary for a legal firm headed by Samuel (Blanc), a renowned specialist in cases involving anti-Semitic violence who has a past connection with Jeanne's parents. But when things go wrong she does something that has severe consequences.

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The Brotherhood of the Wolf Review


Terrible
Brutal. Ugly. Predictable. Boring. Stereotypical. Comical. Violent. Lethargic. Seven words to describe the hellish cinema experience of The Brotherhood of the Wolf. Alas, I forgot two more epitaphs: disappointing and plagiaristic.

The Brotherhood of the Wolf has all of the makings of a great French epic. Dashing leading men including Vincent Cassel (The Crimson Rivers), voluptuous women such as Emilie Dequenne and Monica Bellucci, a promising storyline packed full of complex, daunting elements of suspense and mystery, and impressive production values clearly evident in costuming and set design. The problem is that this film is about as French in style and execution as McDonald's French fries.

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Rosetta Review


Unbearable
Fair warning! Don't eat a big meal before you watch Rosetta. If you thought the handheld camera motion from The Blair Witch Project was bad, you'll be stumbling out of this one with a splitting headache and nausea that only Dramamine can prevent or projectile vomiting can cure. At least in Blair Witch the technique served a purpose that added an element of mystery to the film. Rosetta, on the other hand, was so dull and convoluted that the hand held style fails miserably in its attempt to create a "realistic atmosphere." Directors Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne should issue a warning for theaters to block off the first eight rows of every location that this movie opens so that nobody gets too close to the screen, plus they ought to provide those handy little barf bags, just in case you have a weak stomach like me.

Rosetta, played by newcomer Emilie Dequenne, is a seventeen year-old adolescent suffering through a miserable life in Seraing, Belgium. She lives in a trailer park with an alcoholic mother who prostitutes herself for booze and food. Her home barely has running water and cannot even provide shelter from the cold wind. Despite her horrid circumstances, the film chronicles her incredible perseverance and strength as she attempts to get a job that will provide food and rent money for her desolate family to survive.

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A Housekeeper Review


Terrible
I believe Alfred Hitchcock once said that drama was nothing more than real life with the boring bits cut out. The French film A Housekeeper decides to ignore this maxim, and the result is moody, contemplative, and massively boring. It's like watching home movies of a mid-life crisis, only with a musical score and better-looking people.

Jacques (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is a Parisian in his forties who appears to have it all -- successful career, beautiful apartment, and the kind of weathered good looks that younger women find appealing from time to time. However, his life and his apartment are both in disarray. He's in the middle of a separation with his wife, which has probably led to indifference, loneliness, and the inability to run a vacuum or to mop a floor.

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Brotherhood Of The Wolf Review


Weak

"Brotherhood of the Wolf" isn't a bad pre-Revolutionary French action-horror flick, per se. But everything that's wrong with it can be summed up by noting that if it had been made in English, it would have starred Christopher Lambert, that heavy-browed, stiff and oh-so-serious staple of glossy B-fantasy swordplay flicks like the "Highlander" series.

It's lavishly over-produced yet full of cheap cinematic artifice -- like gratuitous, unmotivated, absurdly dramatic slow motion and over-the-top sound effects. It takes itself very seriously for a movie with blinders on to its pronounced plot holes. It features ominous secret-society meetings of evil aristocrats who wear masks and velvet robes. And it has a hunky blond hero (Samuel Le Bihan) with period-inaccurate, rock star mullet hair, who sports war paint and twirls twin swords -- just because it looks cool -- during martial arts duels set in cathedral-like mossy forests.

Everything that's right with "Brotherhood of the Wolf" is harder to explain. Set in a dark French province beset by some stealthy supernatural beast that's goring villagers, the film is thick with atmospheric peril and mystery that seems to have hung in the vaporous air for ages.

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