Plot: Marie (Pauline Acquart) and Anne (Louise Blachère) are best friends, united in being not terribly popular. Anne is in the synchronized swimming team, as is Floriane (Adèle Haenel) with whom Marie is very much in love, while Anne has her eye on François (Warren Jacquin) who happens to be dating Floriane. When both Marie and Anne go after their crushes without telling the other, things become very complicated, though.
Water Lilies is a beautiful coming-of-age film, at once kind and emotionally raw, it will probably remind you of many moments when you were young yourself – mostly in a good way. Absolutely fantastic.
Plot: After Joachim (Jonathan Couzinié) has an apparently random encounter with somebody on the street who gives him the idea that he is the reincarnation of a Zoran who appears to not have been a good person, he convinces his friend Alice (Adèle Haenel) to go to Sarajevo with him and find out more about his past life. Alice, a filmmaker who shot a documentary about Srebrenica and its aftermath, decides to make a film out of Joachim’s search as well. Together with soundmaster Virginie (Antonia Buresi) and cameraman Paul (Paul Guilhaume) they leave to find out who Zoran/Joachim was.
Heroes Don’t Die is an interesting, metafictional film that takes its seemingly fantastic premise to say something about how to live in the face of mortality – be it your own personal mortality, or the mortality of people around you, be it a single death or the masses who died in the war. I found it very intriguing.
Plot: Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is a painter. She gets hired to paint the portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). It’s supposed to be her wedding portrait and Héloïse has so far refused to be painted by all of the (male) painters who came before. So Marianne is under strict orders to not tell Héloïse of her job, but just spend time with her and then paint her from memory. When Marianne arrives, she finds Héloïse a fasinating portrait subject, but even more than that, a fascinating woman.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a beautiful, unusual film telling an epic love story in stunning images. It did take me two attempts to get into it, but once I did, I absolutely loved it.
Plot: Georges (Jean Dujardin) is turning over a new leaf after separating from his wife, and that starts with his jacket. Tired of his old one, he finds the jacket of his dreams in a personal ad: 100% deerskin and with a fringe, he is immediately head over heels for it. After spending all of his savings on the jacket (and receiving a camcorder as a gift), he withdraws to a small mountain town. At the local bar, he tells bartender Denise (Adèle Haenel) he is a filmmaker. She dreams of being a cutter herself. When Georges actually starts filming his adventures with his new jacket, he asks her to work on the material. From there, things start to go a little out of control.
When I watched this film at the Viennale, it was a late screening and I was tired, so I fell asleep after about three quarters of it. Since I enjoyed the first part, though, and I generally like Dupieux’s films, I have since re-watched it in its entirety, and I’m glad I did. It’s probably not Dupieux’s best film, but it is wonderfully weird.
It’s the early 1990s and HIV/AIDS has already claimed many lives, but little is done to combat it. Advocacy Group ACT UP is trying to change that, planning several different interventions. Nathan (Arnaud Valois) has just joined the group and is swept up in their relentless energy. Or is he more swept off his feet by Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) who seems to live for the activism?
120 BPM is not perfect, but it is a strong film, a love letter to activism and an emotional journey that will leave you breathless.
When Tara (Gemma Arterton) is released from prison, she goes to see Renée (Adèle Haenel). Renée works as a school teacher and is trying to have a baby with her boyfriend (Jalil Lespert), but it appears that her past was rather different: Tara demands money from her, money they stole together before she was arrested, at a time when Tara worked with Sandra (Adèle Exarchopoulos). But how does Renée’s life tie in with Sandra or teenager Karine (Solène Rigot) who behaves much more maturely than she is or the small Kiki (Vega Cuzytek) who loves to play outside, even at the dangerous junkyard.
Orphan really impressed me (and was the first of the Scope100 films that year that actually did). It’s a well-made film with fascinating female characters.
Jenny (Adèle Haenel) runs a clinic in a rather poor area of town that she just took over from a now retired doctor. She’s the only doctor in the clinic and does her best,but also knows that she has to fight for her boundaries. So when the bell to her clinic is rung shortly after closing time, she ignores it, despite being still there. The next day, police show up at the clinic, informing her that they found the body of a dead young woman and they don’t know who she is. But it appears that it was her who rung the bell. Jenny is shocked and becomes obsessed with finding out who the woman was and what happened to her.
La fille inconnue was the perfect Double Feature with I, Daniel Blake. Like that film, it’s sociopolitical cinema that wears its heart on its sleeve and is absolutely (emotionally) engaging.
As the 19th century draws to a close, Marie-France’s (Noémie) brothel has a good reputation and is rather well-visited. Nevertheless Marie-France struggles with debt just as her girls struggle with their debt to her. As they engage with the clients in more and much less benign ways and find the support they need in the friendships with each other, all of them dream of freedom.
L’Apollonide is a fantastic movie with wonderful actresses, a great story and beautiful settings that grabbed me from the start and didn’t let me go again.