This is more of a way to easily get access to reviews I did for the Cork French Film Festival. When those films come up, I’ll just be linking to the copy I wrote for Alliance Francaise Cork instead saying anything new about the releases. However, I did see a good few films in and out of the festival (hence why this has taken so long to come out), so I’ll be writing new material for those!
Sink or Swim
This movie follows Mathieu Amalric and whole host of French character actors as they take up male synchronised swimming. There’s a lot that really endeared me to this film-I like how distinctive and well defined each of the team mates were, I like how both their coaches are hard-as-shit women who feel distinct and it’s never depicted as emasculating. In fact there’s a lot of easy humour you could go with the premise, and outside of it obviously being pointed out that it’s not typically something you’d associate with lads, it doesn’t hit those marks and takes the efforts very seriously. It’s funny, moves at a brisk pace and earns its sentimentality with well done character writing and performances to back it up. It leans a bit too into the quirk and it’s a tad too predictable for its own good, but I enjoyed it and it’s definitely a good time at the movies.
The House by the Sea
This follows three middle-aged siblings as their elderly father has a stroke and is catatonic, nearing death. Particular focus is on the sister, who has not been to her father’s home since her child was killed in his care. This one left me really cold, despite some decent acting from Ariane Ascaride in particular. It’s self-serious and way too stagey. It feels it would suit the stage better as the presentation at the coastal town does nothing for it. The political element is just crammed in here, there’s a really creepy subplot about a much younger suitor for Ascaride’s character, and none of the characters are really nuanced enough to catch my attention. It’s a pretty rote and tired outing, you’ve seen this movie a thousand times before.
Lola and Her Brothers
An Impossible Love
This was another film I reviewed for the Cork French Film Festival. I also reviewed it on my YouTube channel (review starts from 3.11):
Memoir of War
The Time of the Forests
This one looks at the diverse range of forests that once roamed through France and how they’re being withered away by deforestation and profiteering. And I’ll hand it to them; making a documentary about foresting this engaging is kind of miracle in of itself. It’s well shot and really gets you to care about the plight of nature in modern day capitalism and the unexpected and horrific consequences this system is having. That being said, I feel 100 minutes is perhaps a bit too long for the subject and it runs into repetition in places. You arguably could have cut about 30 minutes off and made this a lot more engaging to sit through. Still, it’s an important topic very well told and made me reconsider the ways in which we destroy the environment that would go entirely overlooked due to the mundanity of it all.
A Faithful Man
This film is effortlessly droll and really goddamn funny. All the cast did a stellar job (even Johnny Depp’s daughter-I had to do a double take when I saw she was in it), and it’s just quintessential French dry wit. A long-term couple have their relationship ended after the missus reveals she’s pregnant with their mutual friend’s child. Nine years later, their paths cross again after said mutual friend dies. Writer-director Louis Garrel has excellent chemistry with…his real life wife, and the unexpected ways the characters act and talk really prevents you from figuring out where it’s going next. It completely follows the beat of its director, and I always dig movies that do that, especially when they’re this much fun.
In Safe Hands
Vrginie Efira (note: this the third film she was in in this festival that I saw) plays a mother who drags her troubled and delinquent son on a long voyage on horseback through Kyrgyzstan. This movie looks wonderful, and it really knows how to use its environment to create a sense of being lost that both the characters exhibit. However, nothing in the two leads or how they interact with their environments really grabbed me, and I found it hard to care for either of them. I don’t think the actor playing the son does a particularly great job and he started grating on my last nerve by the end of it. A lifeless excursion that really failed to keep my attention or interest.