An upper middle-class French family celebrates a birthday in a restaurant. In one evening and during one meal, family history, tensions, collective and separate grudges, delights, and ... See full summary »
Martine and Jacques knew their friend before he became an important television personality, but have not seen him for over ten years. They are hospitable people - witness the fact that they... See full summary »
Odile is looking for a new, bigger apartment. Her younger sister Camille just completed her doctoral thesis has fallen in love with an estate agent who is responsible for Odile's apartment ... See full summary »
Jean is a family man and factory worker who dreams of becoming a songwriter. Pinning his hopes on his teenage daughter, Marva, he takes her to singing contests in which the awkward and ... See full summary »
Josse De Pauw,
Eva van der Gucht,
Werner De Smedt
Laura is still waiting for Prince Charming at the age of 24. So when Sandro appears at a party, exactly like her Prince would in her dreams, she thinks she's found the right one. But then ... See full summary »
Agnes Jaoui plays a local political candidate Agathe Villanova, who returns to her childhood home in the south of France in order to help her sister Florence (Pascale Arbillot) sort through... See full summary »
In Yorkshire, Toby Teasdale is the alcoholic director of a school and married with two children with Celia Teasdale that is very unhappy. They have a maid, Sylvie Bell, and a guardian and ... See full summary »
François Sim considers himself worthless and he may have good reasons for that. Hasn't he lost his job as well as his wife Caroline? Isn't he unable to relate to Lucy, his teenage daughter?... See full summary »
Two seemingly happily married French couples are forced to contend with a number of issues: Nearing the end of his career, small-town doctor Jacques (Jean-Pierre Bacri) and his wife Carole ... See full summary »
Three men, three women, opposites, possibilities, and tastes. Castella owns a industrial steel barrel plant in Rouen; Bruno is his flute-playing driver, Franck is his temporary bodyguard while he negotiates a contract with Iranians, his wife Angélique does frou-frou interior decorating and loves her dog. The conventional Castella hires a forty-year-old actress, Clara, to tutor him in English, and he finds her and her Bohemian lifestyle fascinating. Is this love? What would she say if he declared himself? Through Bruno, Franck meets Manie, a barmaid who deals hash. They begin an affair. Are they in love? They joke about marriage. As the women hold back, the men must make decisions.Written by
This is a character film, a portrait etched in dialogue between the self-written lead and the wandering sympathies of simple, well-executed cinematography. Echoes of Bacri's erstwhile partner-in-crime, Resnais, abound in image and in the weight of unspoken actions. These glances and comedic zooms denoue with the sharpness of Tati, without clouding the gravity of the story.
And it is a meticulously woven story they Jaoui gives us, at a pace that might leave an impatient viewer distracted. Tracking Bacri, smooth pans move ethereally through Petit-Bourgeois sets, ever pressing the banality of her subject. The middle-aged businessman in mid-life crisis is a bittersweet choice for comedy: bitter in its reality and sweet in the familiarity, he is tantamount to a French David Brent. Castella is a character whose weakness is sympathetic to the point of embarrassment.
By contrast, the hand-held and quick cutting that accompanies the theatre troupe and artists expresses the impatience we see in their speech, the bitter jealousy of the unsuccessful and arrogant intellectual. An attack on 'her own people', Jaoui here takes a dig at many of her peers in favour of the senior man, giving Devaux hints of the autobiographical that echo down to Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino.
A soundtrack bridging centuries evokes the knowledge of the older man on screen as well as of the auditorium. Kathleen Ferrier's warble punctuates moments of silence as we observe Castella's nonplussed expression, while Metheny and Murray smash and spark away in background to the Bohemians. These interludes mark sea changes in viewer sympathy, serving to give some degree of cultural empathy to the characters.
Above all, though, the music and rhythm of cinematography, script and music span great clashes in taste. A mesh of contempt and desire that result in a rounded and masterful work, with appeal for all but with affection for those with grey streaks in their hair.
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