Naissance des pieuvres [Water Lilies] (2007)

Naissance des pieuvres
Director: Céline Sciamma
Writer: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Pauline Acquart, Louise Blachère, Adèle Haenel, Warren Jacquin
Seen on: 18.4.2021

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.

The film poster showing Marie (Pauline Acquart) and Floriane (Adèle Haenel), their faces close together. Floriane is looking straight at the camera, Marie is looking at Floriane.
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Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] (2019)

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu
Director: Céline Sciamma
Writer: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino
Seen on: 16.12.2019

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.

The film poster showing Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) standing in the dark, the bottom of her long dress on fire.
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Ma vie de Courgette [My Life as a Zucchini] (2016)

Ma vie de Courgette
Director: Claude Barras
Writer: Céline Sciamma, Germano Zullo, Claude Barras, Morgan Navarro
Based on: Gilles Paris’ novel Autobiographie d’une Courgette
Cast: Gaspard Schlatter, Sixtine Murat, Paulin Jaccoud, Michel Vuillermoz, Raul Ribera, Estelle Hennard, Elliot Sanchez, Lou Wick, Brigitte Rosset
Seen on: 21.2.2017

Plot:
After an accident, Icare, called Courgette, (Gaspard Schlatter) is orphaned. Police man Raymond (Michel Vuillermoz) brings him to a foster home where Courgette lives together with other kids, most notably the rowdy Simon (Paulin Jaccoud) who keeps pressuring Courgette for his story and the new arrival Camille (Sixtine Murat) who Courgette falls for immediately. But how did she end up in the home?

Ma vie de Courgette is a sweet, touching thing that approaches the topic of foster care with caution and a lot of realism. I enjoyed it a lot.

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Quand on a 17 ans [Being 17] (2016)

Quand on a 17 ans
Director: André Téchiné
Writer: Céline Sciamma, André Téchiné
Cast: Kacey Mottet Klein, Corentin Fila, Sandrine Kiberlain
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 26.10.2016

Plot:
Damien (Kacey Mottet Klein) lives with his mother Marianne (Sandrine Kiberlain) in a rural area. His mother is the local doctor, his father is a soldier who is gone most of the time. But Damien’s life would be alright if it wasn’t for Thomas (Corentin Fila) who bullies him. As chance will have it, Marianne gets called to Thomas’ place, a farm a long way from school, because Thomas’ mother is ill. To help more than just medically, Marianne suggests that Thomas could stay with her and Damien for a while, which means that Damien and Thomas have to reshape their relationship with each other.

Quand on a 17 ans tells a sweet and touching story in an unusual setting that I very much loved because it sticks to the complexity of its characters and their relationships without overloading the story.

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Bande de filles [Girlhood] (2014)

Bande de filles
Director: Céline Sciamma
Writer: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Karidja TouréAssa SyllaLindsay KaramohMariétou TouréIdrissa DiabatéSimina Soumaré
Part of: Viennale
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Marieme (Karidja Touré) lives in a poor area of Paris, heading towards a dead end in school, strictly supervised by her brother while charged with taking care of her younger sisters while their mother works. Everywhere boys seem to rule the world – until Marieme meets Lady (Assa Sylla), Adiatou (Lindsay Karamoh) and Fily (Mariétou Touré). These girls don’t take shit from anybody and as Marieme joins them, she turns into Vic who goes after her own dreams.

This year’s start to the Viennale was strong, but it was Bande de filles that really blew me away for the first time at the festival this year. It was beautifully done, fantastically acted and absolutely striking.

bandedesfilles

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Tomboy (2011)

Tomboy
Director: Céline Sciamma
Writer: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Zoé Héran, Malonn Lévanna, Jeanne Disson, Sophie Cattani, Mathieu Demy
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Laure (Zoé Héran), her sister Jeanne (Malonn Lévanna), her father (Mathieu Demy) and her pregnant mother (Sophie Cattani) move to a new appartment. Laure mostly spends her time with Jeanne, while her mum is busy being very pregnant and her father works. When Laure goes out to play with the other kids of the area, Lisa (Jeanne Disson) mistakes her for a boy. Laure decides to go along with that and becomes Michaël. Michaël and Lisa hit it off, but how long until the kids find out?

What a wonderfully beautiful film that completely captured the summers of my childhood. It’s realistic and heartbreaking and funny and sweet and was definitely one of my absolute highlights of this year’s Viennale.

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