Jo (Diop) lives with her widowed train-driver dad Lionel (Descas) in a Paris flat. Also in the building are Lionel's ex Gabrielle (Dogue) and Noe (Colin), a neighbour Jo has her eye on. Together, they're a sort of family, watching out for each other even as circumstances change around them. When a friend (Toussaint) retires, Lionel becomes terrified of his own old age, which opens him up to potential romance with a local cafe owner (Ado). And besides Noe, Jo is also drawn to a cute shop clerk (Folly).
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In the Arms of My Enemy drops us into this wet, cold, poverty-stricken environment with great effectiveness. You can almost feel yourself getting muddy as you watch. A story of two sets of brothers who collide with disastrous results, it's violent and relentlessly depressing but ultimately sort of uplifting. It's quite a ride.
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You want this movie to be a piece about the loneliness of growing old? Sure, it can be that. You want it to be about redeeming yourself for a bad life before you die? It can be that too. It can even be a psychological mystery about spies, the black market for human organs, and illegitimate children. It's barely any of these things, but if you try real hard you can convince yourself that Denis has a point somewhere in this.
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This extremely small and shallow film tells a singular tale: A movie director (Anne Parillaud) is having trouble getting her stars to go through with the movie's big sex scene. She tries everything: Gentle pressure, the hard sell, different settings. Ultimately it all comes down to using an oversized plastic phallus in the scene instead of the actor's real member, and our director is sure this will solve all the problems.
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This Sade (Daniel Auteuil) is no less seductively charismatic than Rush was, but he has less to do, as Sade chooses to focus more attention on the cultural climate than any specific, provocative interaction between characters. Rush was allowed more leeway to display range from torment to arrogance while Auteuil's Sade is a bit too impervious to his surroundings. What they do both achieve is providing an easy attraction. Neither have the stereotypically sexual physique the average woman clambers for, but their wit and intelligence are arousing. The acting isn't necessarily better in the English counterpart, but there is more weight given to individual motivation so that you're more attuned to personal struggles in the progressively oppressive Napoleonic era.
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