Last year’s French award baiting, box office smash hit, The Intouchables known in the UK as Untouchable finally gets a release in the UK, a full year later than in its home country and my was it worth the wait. The film broke box office records in France, becoming the 2nd highest grossing French film of all time after just nine weeks at the box office and has gone on to gross €277 million worldwide from a budget of just €9.5 million. I’d heard very good things from the countries that had been lucky enough to get the film within a year of its release but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the film quite as much as I did. It’s been a very good month for film with the likes of Anna Karenina, Looper and then Holy Motors all edging into my current 2012 Top 10 list but I think at the moment Untouchable is beating them all with it’s surprisingly frank and extremely funny portrayal of a young French-Senegalese man’s (Omar Sy) struggle in taking on the role of full time carer for a paralysed millionaire (François Cluzet).
Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Saturday, 14 April 2012
2010’s Little White Lies is a French Comedy-Drama from actor/director Guillaume Canet (Tell No One) and stars an ensemble cast of the great and the good of French cinema in a story about love, friendship and lies.
The film begins in a
night club where Ludo (Jean Dujardin – The Artist) is drinking. On his way home his scooter is hit by a lorry and he
is left with severe injuries. After visiting him in hospital, his close group
of friends decide that they will continue with their yearly tradition of
holidaying at hotel owner Max’s (Francois Cluzet – Tell No One) holiday home near Paris in spite of Ludo’s inability to join
them. Seven friends set off for two weeks, leaving Ludo in the Bordeaux hospital. There is plenty of eating,
drinking and boating but also tension in the group for various reasons, all of
which are played out and resolved over the 154 minute run time. Paris
The film features some extraordinarily stereotyped characters. Of the women there is an Earth Mother type (Valérie Bonneton), a free spirit, arty one (Marion Cotillard) and a sexually frustrated wife/mother (Pascale Arbillot). Of the male characters there is the drug taking, party boy (Dujardin), playboy, arrogant actor (Gilles Lellouche – Adele Blanc-sec), the rich obsessive (Cluzet), the neurotic (Laurent Lafitte) and the sexually confused husband (Benoît Magimel). There are some fantastic actors in that bunch and some of them are spectacular in the film but all of the characters are badly drawn and stereotypical.
The story intertwines and proceeds at a steady pace. It is interesting to watch and like being a fly on the wall at an extended middle class dinner party. The film almost invites the audience in as one of the friends and makes you want to be part of the group. There are nice little side stories with each character spending time with each other and each having their own problems and issues, some of which are more volatile than others. The script isn’t particularly funny but the film most definitely is. The humour comes from the awkwardness of certain situations and the actor’s physical reactions to the dialogue, mostly in the form of surprised looks and glaring glances. Every now and then a secondary character will pop in for a few minutes which helps to add to the realism of the story.
The acting is fantastic across the board with Bonneton and Lellouche receiving Cesar nominations for their efforts. Personally I thought that Cluzet stood out more and Cotillard was very understated but fiery when she needed to be. Dujardin is also very good in a smaller role than the others. Either way, the film is an acting master class. One thing that perhaps helped with the acting and also helped to make the film feel so realistic are the actor’s relationships with each other. Cluzet and Bonneton are married, Cotillard is married to the director Canet and Cluzet, Lellouche and Canet worked together on Tell No One. These pre-existing working and personal relationships must have helped the director and cast to feel at ease while working together and it definitely shows up on film. It feels like everyone had fun making the film.
One thing that nearly ruined the film for me is the music. The choice of music is diabolical. The director has chosen music to intensify the audience’s emotions but in doing so is treating his audience like idiots. Each time there is a sad scene some mushy, American Ballard is played and when we need to be uplifted we get some sort of happy, funky pop. Its shocking how bad the music is and the director might as well have just had flashing red letters on the screen reading ‘LAUGH NOW’ or ‘BE SAD’ at the appropriate moments. I can’t tell you how much this irked me and it honestly came close to ruining an otherwise decent film.
Overall this is an admirable film which features an engaging story and fantastic acting. It is both funny and sad and feels incredibly realistic. It is too long however and makes use of some terrible music.
Sunday, 12 February 2012
Tell No One is a wonderfully confusing French thriller from director Guillaume Canet. It is the story of a man who, eight years after his wife is murdered, receives an anonymous email featuring a live video of her with the caption “Tell no one”. He then sets about trying to discover what happened on the night of his wife’s murder and if she could possibly still be alive.
I thought I had figured the film out three or four times during its two hour running time but was pleased to discover I was way off. Even when the film explains what has happened, there is still more to it and it was a pleasing conclusion to a complex story. The ending itself was lovely and touching to watch. The film is full of twists and turns which helps to wrong foot the audience.
The film appeared on a number of Top 10 films of the year lists and I’m not surprised by this. It is very good indeed. The acting is excellent throughout. There isn’t a weak link in any cast member and I thought that Francois Cluzet was outstanding playing the principle character. I also felt that British actress Kristin Scott Thomas was superb as Cluzet’s friend and sister in law and Gilles Lellouche was menacing yet kind hearted as gangster, Bruno. The film had a good mix of pace, featuring one or two fast paced action scenes and a lot of slower paced dramatic scenes. A scene where Cluzet has to run across a motorway was extremely exhilarating.
I wholeheartedly recommend watching this film if you like mystery-thriller films such as Zodiac or The Machinist or just very well acted and put together films in general.