Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered garage music in France. It's not an easy film to engage with, since the characters and situations remain stubbornly undefined by the atmospheric filmmaking. But fans of the music will find the movie mesmerising as director Mia Hansen-Love cleverly recreates the clubbing culture.
The central figure is Paul Vallee (Felix de Givry), who with his buddy Stan (Hugo Conzelmann) forms a DJ duo called Cheers in the early 1990s, adding a "French touch" to the garage sound and developing a friendly rivalry with their pals Thomas and Guy-Man (Vincent Lacoste and Arnaud Azoulay), better known as Daft Punk. Despite gaining success in France, around Europe and even in America, Paul struggles to make a decent living, mainly because all of his money disappears into his drug habit. So he constantly turns to his mother (Arsinee Khanjian) for help. But the real problem for him is loneliness, as his relationships with a series of girlfriends (including Greta Gerwig and Pauline Etienne) fade away. And nearly 20 years years later, he still feels like he hasn't grown up.
The film is assembled with artistry, capturing the period and settings with an earthy realism while the musical beats churn through every scene. And the actors deliver naturalistic performances that draw out a variety of intriguing themes. So it's deeply frustrating that the film's uneven structure develops so little momentum. De Givry is superb as Paul, but there's nothing about him that becomes terribly interesting apart from his musical innovations. He seems to just drift along, never steering his life in any particular direction, neglecting his relationships to concentrate on the music. Oddly, even his cocaine habit seems to barely impact him, apart from the realisation much later on that the world has moved on without him.
Continue reading: Eden Review
Rather than show an even-handed evaluation of the rigors of hormonal change, Breillat (previously responsible for the unwatchable Romance) wants to indulge in her hour of hate. Life is pain, highness. Get used to it. She'd find keen bedfellows in Neil LaBute and Todd Solondz, other sultans of misanthropy who lack the balls to be earnest or honest. For children, dealing with trauma and pain is complicated. To bury that in sarcasm and academic theory feels cheap. These would-be auteurs (more like hauteurs) haven't earned the right to display suffering because they don't layer it in emotional truth (as Mike Leigh does throughout Naked and David Lynch in several key scenes of Blue Velvet). Of course, there I go again comparing her to all these (better) male directors. I don't care. Gender be damned, she's borderline inept.
Continue reading: Fat Girl Review
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