Richard Berry

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Before the Winter Chill Review


OK

Reuniting with filmmaker Philippe Claudel (I've Loved You So Long), Kristin Scott Thomas delivers yet another brittle, understated performance as a woman who isn't always likeable but is hugely sympathetic. But even though the film is beautifully made, it's also elusive, never quite making it clear what the point is.

Scott Thomas plays Lucie, the glamorous wife of the noted Paris surgeon Paul (Daniel Auteuil). They live in a strikingly modern home in a leafy suburb, where they indulge in lavish gardening projects and spoil the adorable baby daughter of their son Victor (Jerome Varanfrain) and his wife Caroline (Vicky Krieps). After flirting with waitress Lou (Leila Bekhti), Paul starts receiving daily deliveries of roses to his home, office and hospital, which unnerves him thoroughly. He also keeps spotting Lou around town, begging her to stop sending flowers. But is it her? Of course, Lucie can see that something fishy is going on, but she has her own issues as she's constantly pursued by Paul's business partner Gerard (Richard Berry). And Victor and Caroline's marriage is just as strained.

All of these plot-threads and more swirl around to make the film darkly involving. And through it all is a current of resentment, mainly because the characters refuse to confirm their suspicions by asking someone for the truth. Auteuil and Scott Thomas can play this kind of repressed bitterness in their sleep, saying volumes with the tiniest flicker of their eyes. This adds a remarkable depth to the film's layered plotting, partly because it's clear that even they don't understand why they're reacting the way they do.

Continue reading: Before the Winter Chill Review

22 Bullets [l'immortel] Review


Good
As violent as this mob thriller is, it also has a terrific sense of its central characters, focussing on strong emotions and moral decisions. And even though it's overcomplicated, the result is a sleek and very classy.

Charly (Reno) retired from his job as a Marseilles mob boss to spend time with his family. But someone has it in for him, and after he survives being shot 22 times, Charly and a cop (Fois) start looking for who did it. Charly immediately turns to the other local bosses (Merad and Berry), childhood friends with whom he took a vow of loyalty. But soon all-out war breaks out between thugs on various sides, and the division of loyalty isn't as clear-cut as it should be.

Continue reading: 22 Bullets [l'immortel] Review

22 Bullets Trailer


After living a life of crime, Charly Mattei decides to leave his past behind him and devote his family. It's been over three years since his last offence and as far as Charly is concerned his previous bad ways are far behind him. All is set to change when a previous friend leave Charly for dead with 22 bullets in his body.

Continue: 22 Bullets Trailer

The Valet Review


Grim
After a lifetime of carefully calibrating small-idea comedies, French director Francis Veber hits his biggest movie to date. Already planned to be remade in America by the Farrelly brothers and Veber himself, The Valet marks the first time where Veber's deft skills at wild-eyed slapstick and quick-witted jabs have failed him in his endless fascination with the comedy of manners.

It all starts with a poor valet named Francois Pignon (Gad Elmalah), who wants to be the knight-in-shining-armor to his longtime friend and crush Emile (Virginie Ledoyen). Emile needs money to keep open her quaint little bookshop, money that Francois is sadly without. Enter Mr. Levasseur (the great Daniel Auteuil), a philandering corporate dud, and Elena (stunner Alice Taglioni), his model girlfriend, who get photographed together by accident, with Pignon right next to them. The scheme gets thick: The businessman will stake the dough for Emile's store if Francois pretends to be the model's lowly boyfriend. The tent for the media circus is quickly erected as Christine (Kristen Scott Thomas), the businessman's loaded wife, mounts her own investigation into the validity of the relationship.

Continue reading: The Valet Review

Fresh Bait Review


OK
French sophisticates cringed in horror, I'm sure, when news of this (true) 1993 crime came to light: A girl and her two friends tortured and murdered a pair of wealthy men. Why? Because they wanted to raise money to open an upscale clothing boutique in the United States.

Well, it's easier than venture capital. And it helps if you're a psychopath. The movie belongs to ingenue Marie Gillain (best known as the daughter in My Father the Hero), who just so happens to appear naked pretty much throughout the entire film. Nothing wrong with that, and in fact it's not totally gratuitous: You'd have to be a nut to strip this often in front of this many people.

Continue reading: Fresh Bait Review

Richard Berry

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