By the Sea (2015)

By the Sea
Director: Angelina Jolie
Writer: Angelina Jolie
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Melvil Poupaud, Niels Arestrup, Richard Bohringer
Seen on: 16.12.2015

Plot:
Roland (Brad Pitt) and Vanessa (Angelina Jolie) get away from home to spend some time in France. There Roland is supposed to write his new book and Vanessa, who is in a frail state, is supposed to have time and peace to recover. But things don’t really work out as planned. Roland is out drinking at the local bar all the time and Vanessa develops an obsession with the newlyweds (Mélanie Laurent, Melvil Poupaud) in the room next door.

By the Sea has its lengths, but other than that I really enjoyed it. The performances were great, it looked gorgeous and the story and characters were intriguing.

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La dune [The Dune] (2013)

La dune
Director: Yossi Aviram
Writer: Yossi Aviram
Cast: Niels Arestrup, Lior Ashkenazi, Guy Marchand, Emma de Caunes, Moni Moshonov, Mathieu Amalric
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 20.6.2015

Plot:
After breaking up with his girlfriend because he can’t see himself having children and thus tells her to get an abortion, Hanoch (Lior Ashkenazi) goes on a trip from Israel to France where he starts to basically stalk police officer Reuven (Niels Arestrup). Reuven works in Missing Persons and is ready for retirement after the catastrophic end to a case he worked. But then Hanoch is found, without any ID and refusing to talk, wandering in the dunes near a beach and Reuven is tasked with figuring out who he is.

Unfortunately, La dune proved to be the bland ending to this year’s identities Festival. It didn’t start off badly, but it never manages to build up any tension or make me care for any of the characters.

la-dune[SPOILERS]

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À perdre la raison [Our Children] (2012)

À perdre la raison (either translated to Our Children or Loving Without Reason)
Director: Joachim Lafosse
Writer: Thomas Bidegain, Joachim Lafosse, Matthieu Reynaert
Cast: Émilie Dequenne, Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Mounir (Tahar Rahim) was originally from Marocco but came to Belgium under the tutelage of André Pinget (Niels Arestrup), a doctor who adopted Mounir, took him in and basically provided everything for him. So it is clear to Mounir that he owes André everything and couldn’t possibly leave him. Not even when Mounir meets Murielle (Émilie Dequenne) and they fall in love. So Murielle moves in with the two men and everything seems to  be going fine at first. But as the situation drags on and the stress is increased by the rapid arrival of children, Murielle’s nerves become more and more frayed.

Damn, people. Sometimes I hate myself because I always go for those emotionally traumatizing films. À perdre la raison is definitely a harrowing experience (especially since it’s based on actual events) because it was such a well-made movie. I guess you have to be a masochistic viewer to go for that kind of thing, but if you are, you’re getting your money’s worth out of this one.

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Elle s’appelait Sarah [Sarah’s Key] (2010)

Elle s’appelait Sarah
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Writer: Gilles Paquet-Brenner, Serge Joncour
Based on: Tatiana De Rosnay‘s novel
Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Mélusine Mayance, Niels Arestrup, Frédéric Pierrot, Michel Duchaussoy, Aidan Quinn

Plot:
In 1942, the (jewish) Starzinsky family gets arrested in the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. In her panic, little Sarah (Mélusine Mayance) hides her even smaller brother in the closet before they all get brought away. While they’re detained, Sarah grows ever more frantic to get back to her little brother.
60 years later, journalist Julia (Kristin Scott Thomas) wants to write an article about the Roundup’s anniversary. But during her research she discovers that her family is a lot closer connected to the events than she originally thought.

The book this movie is based on might actually be good. Kristin Scott Thomas certainly was. But unfortunately both the screenwriting and the directing really were not up for the job.

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War Horse (2011)

War Horse
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Lee Hall, Richard Curtis
Based on: Michael Morpurgo‘s novel
Cast: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Kross, Niels Arestrup, Celine Buckens, Toby Kebbell, Eddie Marsan, Liam Cunningham

Plot:
Albert (Jeremy Irvine) has fallen in love with his neighbor’s foal and is out of his mind with joy when his father (Peter Mullan) actually buys the by now grown horse. Unfortunately they can’t actually afford it. But Albert begs until his mother (Emily Watson) allows him to keep Joey and together they find a way. That is, until war breaks out and Joey is bought by Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston) and shipped off to war. Will Joey and Albert ever find each other again?

This movie was so freaking long, I don’t even have words for it. And my 12 year old me would hate me for saying this but: there was just too much of this damned horse.*

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Small World (2010)

Small World is Bruno Chiche‘s adaptation of Martin Suter‘s book, starring Gérard Depardieu, Alexandra Maria Lara, Françoise Fabian, Niels Arestrup, Nathalie Baye* and Yannick Renier.

Plot:
Simone (Alexandra Maria Lara) just got married to Philippe (Yannick Renier), youngest member of a very rich family. When obviously senile Konrad (Gérard Depardieu) shows up, it is clear that he is somehow connected to the family – and Simone starts to show an interest in him. But matriarch Elvira (Françoise Fabian) seems worried about the childhood memories that keep bubbling up in Konrad.

Small World is a nice film, though at times it seems a little too clichéd. The cast is brilliant, especially Gérard Depardieu.

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Un prophète [A Prophet] (2009)

A Prophet is the newest film by Jacques Audiard, starring Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup and Adel Bencherif.

Plot:
Malik (Tahar Rahim) is moved from juvie to normal prison. He doesn’t belong to any group (not religious enough for the muslims, too muslim for anybody else), which is why he’s quickly chosen by the Corse prisoners, under the leadership of César (Niels Arestrup), to carry out the assassination of another inmate. Against all odds, Malik succeeds. From then on, he’s under the protection of the Corse prisoners and slowly makes his way up in the prison world.

A Prophet is an excellent movie. The acting as well as the directing are strong in this one, but it remains surprisingly pointless. It’s 150 minutes long, and at the end you feel like saying, “wait, that’s it?”

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