Gilles Taurand

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Sister Review


Excellent
A bracingly honest approach to flawed characters makes this small-scale Swiss drama thoroughly involving. And moving too. Most intriguing is how the writers and director have transformed what's essentially a rather dark, bleak story into something involving and emotionally resonant, all without ever turning sentimental.

It's set at the foot of a spectacular Alpine ski resort, where Simon (Klein) spends winter days travelling up and down the slopes, grabbing whatever isn't locked down, then selling the stolen goggles, gloves and even skis to help support his sister Louise (Seydoux). They live in a tiny flat, but Louise is annoyed that she has to take care of Simon, and she's usually off with yet another boyfriend. So Simon begins to turn to other people for a sense of family, including a ski-lift chef (Compston) who helps him with his scam and a foreign woman (Anderson) who seems like the ideal mother.

In their scenes together, Klein and Seydoux have a remarkably authentic chemistry that includes tiny jealousies, rivalries, private jokes and a fierce loyalty to each other. As we learn more about their past, this takes on new meaning that's both warmly touching and darkly chilling at the same time. These two may have a difficult life, but they're enjoying it as much as they can. And their complicated relationship is packed with moments of tenderness that undercut the resentment.

The film is shot in an off-handed way that pulls us into each scene. The great cinematographer Agnes Godard captures the staggering beauty of the Alps along with tellingly intimate moments, contrasting their grim block of flats with the soaring natural scenery. And while some of the side characters feel a little contrived, they help us understand Louise and Simon in ways that catch us aback. This is a raw, unusually sensitive portrait of two people whose personal connection drives them crazy even as it gives them hope.

Rich Cline

Home Review


Very Good
With this playful fable, filmmaker Meier takes a clever look at family life by placing the characters in a surreal location and then twisting things outrageously. And terrific acting makes it surprisingly resonant.

Marthe and Michel (Huppert and Gourmet) live in idyllic isolation on an unfinished highway with their three children: snarky sunbather Judith (Leroux), obsessive teen Marion (Budd) and lively young Julien (Klein). But their quiet life is about to be shattered when, after 10 years, Route E57 is finally opened. Suddenly, they're cut off from work and school by a crowded, high-speed motorway. But while Marion frets about pollution, Marthe refuses to leave her beloved home, leaving Michel no choice but to take drastic action.

Continue reading: Home Review

Dry Cleaning Review


OK
Two married French sticks-in-the-mud try to keep a dry cleaning business running while their lives degenerate into a boring daily grind. To spice things up, they decide to check out a brother-sister drag show, only to inexplicably get caught up in a kind of threesome with the male counterpart. Far less interesting than its subject matter would suggest, Dry Cleaning is scarcely more enthralling than its title. (Also of note: the subtitling is pathetic.)

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Time Regained Review


Excellent
A literal adaptation of the final book of Marcel Proust's Remembrances of Things Past would be inconceivable and boring, since the tastes and smells which reveal layers of memory cannot be captured onscreen. Raoul Ruiz's Time Regained does the next best thing. Ruiz weaves a fragmented, experimental narrative in the form of a tapestry. There's an uncanny beauty achieved by telling his story in this manner, which reveals thoughts and inactions by using the very limitations of the film medium. He presents us with a series of photographs, or images shot into mirrors or through doorways which open up to the past and present (and cross-cut between the two with relative ease.)

Taking place within the huge estates and manor houses of the cultural elite, with string quartets playing in their studies and tiny cakes neatly arranged on trays in their kitchens, our main character, Marcel (Marcelo Mazzarello) wanders through this world drinking it in. The plot is inconsequential, it is more about observing the crowded rooms and bitten back emotions, the sips of wine and soft handshakes. Every now and then, Marcel is forced to confront his decadent relatives (sneeringly funny John Malkovich and sour Pascal Greggory.)

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Strayed Review


Good
Strayed is set in World War II during the German occupation of France. The setup is simple; a woman named Odile (Emmanuelle Béart), along with her two children, escapes a convoy that has been air attacked by German airplanes. They spend the night in the forest and the next day meet a teenager named Yvon (Gaspard Ulliel), who takes them to safety.

Yvon, who is on the run from both the Germans and the French, takes the family to an abandoned country chateau, which he has broken into. Over the course of a few weeks they begin to live in the chateau as a makeshift family. Yvon befriends Odile's son (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) and - much to the chagrin of Odile - becomes a father figure to the boy. And in time - even though Odile is Yvan's senior by many years - they both fall for each other.

Continue reading: Strayed Review

Alice Et Martin Review


Bad
Everything that's wrong with French cinema is on display in Alice et Martin, a daring title for a film that, when translated, means... Alice and Martin. Martin is a troubled young French man (Alexis Loret) who runs away from country home, steals fruit and eggs along the way, and ends up in Paris, where of course he instantly becomes a male model. Here he meets musician Alice (Juliette Binoche), and soon enough she's pregnant. Then he goes nuts.

I didn't understand any of this, and I don't expect anyone else to, either. That is, unless you have a psychic connection with the screenwriter. There are long shots of the countryside, slow-motion shots of waves, and an old man falling down the stairs. What does it all mean? Hell if I know. Something about love, obsession, relationships? I know a lot of crazy people, and none of them act like this.

Continue reading: Alice Et Martin Review

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Gilles Taurand Movies

Sister Movie Review

Sister Movie Review

A bracingly honest approach to flawed characters makes this small-scale Swiss drama thoroughly involving. And...

Home Movie Review

Home Movie Review

With this playful fable, filmmaker Meier takes a clever look at family life by placing...

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Strayed Movie Review

Strayed Movie Review

Strayed is set in World War II during the German occupation of France. The setup...

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