Olivier Gourmet

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Madame Bovary Trailer


Emma Bovary is a young Christian woman from Normandy, France with proper values, whose marriage to the town's doctor she hopes will bring money, high status and unending excitement compared to her miserly life on her father's farm. A handsome and intelligent fellow, it seems Emma couldn't wish for a better husband, though as time progresses his frequent coldness towards her and lack of ambition starts to weigh heavy on her heart. On one of her rare social occasions, she and Charles attend a dinner party hosted by Monsieur Homais, and it's there she meets a handsome young man named Leon Dupuis. Dupuis presents gifts and the romantic exhilaration she so craves, but she is trapped by the conventions of respectable marriage. Meanwhile, her taste for the finer things in life have thrust her into huge debt and now she has serious worries about her future.

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Grand Central Trailer


Gary has been in and out of low-paid work for most of his young life despite being physically fit and able to adapt to most workplace situations. However, his adaptability could be about to be challenged as he signs up to work at a nuclear power plant in France. He is inducted into the plant by his colleagues Toni and Gilles, who become like family to him as the trio and their team battle for their health against the ever imminent threat of radiation poisoning. His new 'family' situation gets complicated when he falls in love with Toni's flirtatious fiancee Karole and he risks losing everything he's worked so hard for. Not only that, there's fear at work when he and some others suffer at the hands of radioactivity - and now his life could well be in danger.

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The Kid With a Bike Review


Excellent
A striking central performance and the Dardennes' usual intimate filmmaking bring this simple story to vivid life in ways that are moving and sometimes gasp-inducing. It's a striking film with a real kick in its tale.

Cyril (Doret) is an angry tornado of a boy who lives in a care home with no idea where his father has moved. In a fit of desperation, he goes in search of his beloved bike, which is found by a neighbour, Samantha (De France). Her kindness strikes a chord with Cyril, and he starts visiting her for weekends.

She also helps him find his father (Renier), who can't cope with the responsibilities of fatherhood. But Cyril then turns to a local thug (Di Mateo), who teaches him how to rob a local businessman.

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Mesrine: Public Enemy No 1 Review


Excellent
Picking up where Killer Instinct left off, this second part of the biopic has a 1970s style, with grittier edges and darker violence. But it takes the same anecdotal approach, never quite letting us in.

In 1973, rampant criminal Jacques Mesrine (Cassel) has finally been captured by the cops but stages a daring courtroom escape with the help of his pal Charlie (Lanvin). He's soon back to his bank-robbing, executive-kidnapping ways, taunting the tenacious detective Broussard (Gourmet) even when he's arrested.

In prison he concocts an elaborate escape with fellow inmate Besse (Amalric), and the two go on another brazen crime-spree, meeting Mesrine's next wife Sylvie (Sagnier) along the way. But as Mesrine adopts the politics of Germany's Baader-Meinhof gang, the cops are closing in.

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Home Review


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.

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The Time of the Wolf Review


OK
What is it about French filmmakers and the word "wolf?" This is the second French film in three years to ostensibly cover the lupine species... even though it doesn't really.

Director Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher) offers a tantalizing setup this go-round, yet he ultimately does nothing with it. Here's the gist: A family arrives at their vacation house under suspicious (and weirdly hazy) circumstances, only to find squatters living inside. Soon Haneke reveals that some (unexplained) apocalyptic event has transpired, scattering people across the countryside. What happens when people try to survive a nuclear winter (or thereabouts)? Does soceity break down or does it rebuild?

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Read My Lips Review


Weak
In my notes for the acclaimed French romantic thriller Read My Lips, the word "endless" is scribbled twice on separate pages, and underlined each time for emphasis. The movie's weakness is not in its material, but in how it's handled.

The movie introduces us to Carla (Emmanuelle Devos), an overworked but tireless secretary for a large construction company. She looks a bit like Toni Colette (which means she's deemed ugly by co-workers), wears two hearing aids, and has the ability to read lips. Unable to enjoy silence and immersed in relative solitude, it's no wonder that she's falling apart.

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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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The Son Review


OK
The Son, co-directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's follow-up to 1999's Cannes Palm d'Or winner Rosetta, is a thriller unlike any I've seen before. Its uniqueness comes from the fact that it's not a suspense film in the traditional sense - what keeps the tension at a fever pitch is not the narrative's progress, but the inscrutability and unpredictability of its protagonist, Olivier (Dardenne mainstay Olivier Gourmet, whose coiled performance won Best Actor at Cannes). A carpenter working at a juvenile vocational training center, Olivier is a meticulous, solitary craftsman who seems to live inside his own head. Not surprisingly then, the Dardenne brothers compose their film almost entirely from behind Olivier's cranium. The effect of such a visual approach is one of delightful sneakiness, as if what we're witnessing are surreptitious glimpses of the man's actual life.

With our gaze positioned directly over his shoulder - providing us with an all-too-intimate familiarity with Gourmet's ear hair - the Dardennes force us to assume Olivier's subjective worldview. Still, despite our proximity, scarcely anything about this strange man is initially decipherable. He's a quiet, pensive individual with a gift for measurement - he can scarily deduce the distance between any two things just by looking at them - living a life of stultifying nothingness. The filmmakers, however, take great pains to explicitly tell us as little as possible about Olivier. Most of what we learn about his personality is revealed not courtesy of high drama but instead through watching him perform mundane daily rituals: helping his students with their carpentry assignments, cleaning his clothes with an air blower after a day in the workshop, doing sit-ups on his barren kitchen floor.

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Time Of The Wolf Review


Weak

The Munich-born, French-dwelling Michael Haneke's work is nothing if not challenging.

The first film I saw of his, "Code Unknown," I found shockingly brilliant, with mesmerizing extended takes exploring all kinds of inner torments, class struggles and frustrations with identity and celebrity.

His follow-up, "The Piano Teacher," was far less satisfying, and struck me as a one-dimensional, unreasonable portrait of a masochist. Nevertheless, "Code Unknown" passed by with barely a whisper and "The Piano Teacher" became a huge art-house phenomenon, even snatching up our San Francisco Film Critics Circle award for Best Actress for star Isabelle Huppert.

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Olivier Gourmet

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