Entries tagged with “Kristin Scott Thomas”.


The life and death of Irène Némirovsky and the fate of the cycle of novels that inspired ‘Suite francaise‘ could be the subject of a thrilling movie, a different one. Born in 1903 in an Ukrainian Jewish family, she took refuge to France after the First World War with her family flying the Russian revolution, but was never granted French citizenship. Converting to Catholicism and writing French nationalistic (some consider these anti-Semitic) fiction did not spare her the fate of the majority of the French Jews – deportation to the concentration camps and death (at Auschwitz). ‘Suite francaise’ was planned to be a five volumes saga about the years of war, written as the events happened. Irene Nemirovsky wrote only two of them before being deported, the manuscript was unread for more than half of a century until discovered by her daughter and published as what has become a historical novel about the years of the war.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0900387/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0900387/

 

I did not read (yet) the books, but from the synopsis on Wikipedia I understand that the script departs quite afar from the original. The (spectacular) introduction scenes may not be in the book but they are useful to understand the context and the historical moment. Similarly, the final seems to be a Hollywood patch, not necessarily adding anything. The core of the film resides in the building love story between the young French woman whose husband is a prisoner of war and the German officer who is allocated to live in their house. It’s a complex relationship, and the merit of the script is that it avoids the black-white, bad-good nuances and moral judgments leaving room for the feelings and emotions. There is also a strong social content, both in the main story (are love or even co-existence allowed between occupier and occupied? here is a question valid also in other times and places) and in the secondary story of the mayor-viscount who pays with his life the price of collaboration. Ambiguity is however the tone that works here best.

 

(video source Entertainment One UK)

 

One of the hard obstacles for viewers of ‘Suite francaise’ is the fact that the film is American and spoken in English. I do not know whom I should ask, but I would certainly loved to see a French version. Maybe it’s still easier for the non-French to deal with the theme of ‘la collaboration’?Beautiful and fragile and tormented and introspective do both good acting jobs in the main roles, but best of all is  as the mother-in-law who may make you change your mind about the moral fabric of the French high classes.  is only at his third long feature film and directs with kind of an academic touch not exactly to my taste, but there are many good reasons to go and see this film.

The music in the opening scene of this French movie should give a strong hint to the viewer about what to expect. It’s a soul song which combines oddly with the first shots of an apparently idyllic gathering in the French countryside. What follows is however all but idyllic. It’s a complex thriller drama about a murder that happened eight years before, a love story and a disappearance that refuses to heal. One of the most intelligent and most sensitive stories in the genre that I have seen lately.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362225/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362225/

 

It may come as a surprise that the film is French, but inspired by a novel and a story written by Harlan Coben. The fine author of mystery novels and thrillers had amazingly few encounters with the movies, this being as far as I know his only novel brought to the big screens. The approach taken by director places the story in France (of course) but none of the characters belongs to any specific localization. Beyond the love story and beyond the sophisticated detective story that is smartly and consistently built, there is a quality of the making that keeps the interest (both intellectual and emotional) awake for the duration of the more than two hours that the film lasts (another Hollywood influence?).

 

(video source peanutspowa)

 

Much of the quality can be attributed to the excellent team of actors, and first among equally good – one of these actors who make you feel their emotions without any apparent effort, just by being himself. The hand of the director is light, he just does professionally his job enjoying the fine team of actors and the intelligent script he has at hands and making us enjoy the story as well. Now I just hope that the studios in Hollywood will not reclaim back this film for an American remake.

 

Dans la maison (In the House) directed by Francois Ozon is one of the the most surprising films i have seen lately. Adaptation of a play, the screen is so smart that my major question is how is it that Woody Allen did not write it first? or maybe he wrote it under disguise?

 

source www.impawards.com

source www.impawards.com

 

It is really such an Allen-esque story, which mingles real life and imagination, the writer as a creator of life, and life as a creator of literature.  It even has a thread about relations of adults and underage and even if it loses a little bit of steam by the end, talking so much about a good ending for the story that it forgets to create a real good and non-conventional one, it is still one of the smartest and most original scripts I have watched lately brought in screen. The hero is a professor of literature Germain (Fabrice Luchini), smart enough to abhor the re-introduction of uniforms in high school, whose literary ambitions were not fulfilled and who finds a goal (and a change in the routine) in pygmalionizing one of his pupils Claude (Ernst Umhauer) in the ways of literature. As it happens Clude’s subjects are his friend and colleague Rapha (Bastien Ughetto), his house which is the middle class dream for a poor kid from the peripheries, and his family or especially his mother (Emmanuelle Seigner) who becomes the object of his teenage dreams and guilty desires. As the story develops, the house becomes the stage of the action, reality inspires fiction at first just to make room for literary fiction becoming reality, the intervention of the teacher becomes much more than correction of grammar or style, it starts to be correction of destinies. All in a fluent and well paced style for most of the time.

 

(video source abcscope)

 

I liked the acting of Fabrice Luchini, well supported by other fine actors as the two charming Kristin Scott Thomas (as his wife, co-reader of Rapha’s essays and supporting character playing eventually a surprising role in the story) and Emmanuelle Seigner. All of them act solidly, their problems are credible, and we can feel the atmosphere and the torments of the middle class in the French province. The two teenager roles are played with the natural touch and expected freshness by Ernst Umhauer and Bastien Ughetto (the latest is very promising, may he have luck in getting distributed in roles that fit his talent and his face!). Overall it’s a smart and funny movie, worth seeing for many reasons.