Many artists down the years have crooned that breaking up is hard to do and cinema has forever shared a similarly morbid fascination with this particular hardship. Again returning to the everyday domesticity of family life, but with significantly less psychological brutality than his 2012 film Our Children, Belgian director Joachim Lafosse’s latest feature, After Love, is an unrelentingly dour take on divorce and the agonisingly slow death rattle of what was once, presumably, a loving relationship.
François Ozon’s latest feature, Frantz, is a stylistically rich, emotionally restrained historical endeavour. It is led by strong performances from Pierre Niney and Paula Beer. This is Franco-German co-production which has been selected for the 2016 BFI London Film Festival’s Official Competition and which takes place in the immediate aftermath of World War I.
A coming-of-age tale and multi-layered quest for identity, Baden Baden is a strong feature debut from a very promising young female French filmmaker. This thought-provoking film will stay with you, intrigue you, even trouble you, long after its credits roll. With director Rachel Lang we travel from nowhere to nowhere not particularly fast, but the Strasbourg native has a firm hand on the wheel of this elusive, spontaneous journey.
Strasbourg native Rachel Lang makes her feature debut with Baden Baden, a Franco-Belgian co-production that takes place in the director’s Alsatian borderlands hometown. A quest for meaning and sense of self as well as place, it is a beguiling, intriguing journey, confounding expectation at each meandering turn. The young French filmmaker sat down with CineVue’s Matt Anderson to chat character, heritage, imagination and identity.
Set in a provincial town in the great rural expanses of western France, there’s a debilitating claustrophobia to Mathieu Amalric’s The Blue Room, a tightly coiled retelling of the 1964 Georges Simenon novel. Surrounded by verdant fields and miles of open road, with seclusion comes isolation, and lashings of heavy rain. It is seduction that sees the actor-director’s character, Julien, become inextricably entwined in an ill-fated and ever more sinister spiral of lust and adulterous behaviour with mistress, Esther (Stéphanie Cléau, a co-writer with Amalric).
Saying a lot with very little is the mark of a truly great actor: non-verbal communication, underplaying emotion, using stillness and economy of gesture efficiently, talking in whispers when a scream is expected. Able to convey crippling fragility, fear, fury and fervour in the blink of an eye, there is no questioning that Isabelle Huppert is one of contemporary cinema’s most effervescent shining lights.
Prepare to be well and truly bamboozled. Attaining maddening, yet fascinating, levels of abstraction and ambiguity, Cosmos is the final feature from Polish auteur Andzrej Zulawski, who passed away in February. His last project is nigh on impossible to fully comprehend; an unclassifiable, existential mind-bender which takes us down the rabbit hole of human nature and thought via the warped psyche and piercing, goggly eyes of law school drop out and aspiring novelist, Witold (Jonathan Genet).
Few rationally-thinking females jump out of planes at 10,000 feet with a smooth-talking chap they met only an hour previously. But this is the movies, so men and women are swept up in carefree spontaneity and abandon, ignoring the inherent dangers of a tandem skydive with a complete stranger. It’s this kind of unadulterated silliness that typifies Laurent Tirard’s Up for Love – an enjoyable, bright and breezy, yet vacuous remake of Corazon de Leon by Argentinian writer-director Marcos Carnevale.
Vincent Lindon, a powerhouse and household name of French film for decades, received widespread acclaim for his subdued, naturalistic performance in Stéphane Brizé’s The Measure of a Man. His turn as a family man struggling against the persistent tides of the economic recession saw him bag the Best Actor gongs at Cannes and the Césars. Lindon talked to CineVue’s Matthew Anderson ahead of the UK release of The Measure of a Man, in cinemas this Friday through New Wave Films.
The Measure of a Man, a third collaboration between French director Stéphane Brizé and veteran actor Vincent Lindon in just six years, is a pared-down social critique that charts the day-to-day drudgery of a man suffering the slings and arrows of economic recession. It’s far from a joyous viewing experience but fans of the Dardennes and Ken Loach will appreciate a bitterly honest slice of life.