Joana Preiss

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Joana Preiss

Dans Paris Review


Very Good
Can we take a moment and talk about Romaine Duris? Not to stray away from the subject of film, but where did this guy come from? The first time I saw him was in a film called L'Auberge Espagnole back in 2003, playing a humdrum student abroad living with a bevy of bodacious babes and a few quixotic chaps in a Spanish apartment. As it were, he also ended up in an American film that very year, James Ivory's vastly underrated Le Divorce. Impressions were made and when his name made a cast list, an interested "hmph" pressed its way out of my vocal chords. Then Jacques Adiard's The Beat That My Heart Skipped came out, and things changed.

Adiard's film wasn't just a great movie; it was a fully-functional jive. What still haunts me is the way Duris moved along to every funky camera move and dynamic scene with such disheveled, transcendent grace. The movie itself breathed in unison with Duris', performance making it easily the best French remake of a movie starring Harvey Keitel ever.

Continue reading: Dans Paris Review

Ma Mère Review


OK
At some point, there won't be any taboos left to ostensibly shatter, and what will French imports do then? Ma Mère is the newest Gallic provocation to come to these shores, though unlike some others (the dismal Anatomy of Hell, say) it has actually been paid attention to by the ratings board, thusly the NC-17 for "strong and aberrant sexual content." The aberrance this time isn't just the coital mingling of older women and younger men (a la last year's The Piano Teacher, which also starred Isabelle Huppert) but also incest, just for kicks. The idea was controversial enough when it was used in the film's source, the titular 1960s Georges Bataille novel, but here it's more likely to cause yawns than outrage.

The strapping youth whom the film places at the intersecting desires of three women is Pierre (Louis Garrel), a somewhat idle guy who, after his father's mysterious death, gets sucked into the orbit of his self-destructive mother, Helène (Huppert). This involves a lot of gamesmanship whereby Helène tries to push Pierre into more and more outlandish behavior, especially with her wastrel friend Réa (Joane Preiss), whom she's more than a little chummy with. At first, Helène pushes Pierre towards Réa, seemingly as a way of having one-degree-of-separation sex with him, watching longingly as Réa screws Pierre in public, blasé strangers wandering past. It's easy to see why these three are pushing themselves to such extremes, given the film's bland setting in the Grand Canaries - with its California-like, mildly libidinous atmosphere and constant, enervating sunlight. But unfortunately that doesn't mean there's much depth to it at all, no matter how much philosophical and religious piffle writer/director Christophe Honoré puts into Pierre's portentous voiceovers.

Continue reading: Ma Mère Review

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