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.
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.
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.
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.
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.