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Café de flore-Movie Review *** 03/19/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Atlantic Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, French (Canadian) language film, Genie Awards, Highly recommended, Jean-Marc Vallée, Jutra Awards, Movies, Romance, Satellite Awards, Toronto Film Critics Association Awards, Vancouver Film Critics Circle.
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Café de flore (Canadian/French) 2011 ***

Written and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring Vanessa Paradis, Evelyne Brochu, Hélène Florent, Kevin Parent, and Marin Gerrier

Among other wins and nominations:
WINNER, Best Canadian Feature, Atlantic Film Festival
WINNER, Best Leading Actress (Paradis); NOMINATED, Best Director (Vallée); Best Motion Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Gerrier); Best Supporting Actress (Florent); Best Screenplay (Vallée), Genie Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Paradis); Best Cinematography; NOMINATED, Best Director (Vallée), Jutra Awards
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Florent), Satellite Awards
NOMINATED, Best Canadian Film (Vallée), Toronto Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Best Canadian Film (Vallée); Best Supporting Actress (Florent); NOMINATED, Best Actress (Paradis); Best Director, Vancouver Film Critics Circle

Café de flore is a somewhat complicated story, the result of two intertwined, and seemingly unrelated, tales about love from different time periods. In one, in late 1970s Paris, a young woman struggles to raise her Down Syndrome son; in the other, a modern Montreal family copes with the parents’ split and the father’s new marriage.

I admit that for a time I mostly stuck with the film because of the great soundtrack, and the way the director beautifully juxtaposed scenes from the two time periods. Eventually the story did make enough sense to make the watching more than worthwhile.

Acclaimed actress Vanessa Paradis (who plays the mother in the earlier time period) is a popular French singer/actress who lived with Johnny Depp for a number of years (they have two children). I recently saw her in the just-okay French comedy Heart Breaker.

Café de flore is the only film credited to the remarkable, award-winning young Marin Gerrier, who portrays her son.

Highly recommended.

120 min. Rated R.


The Barbarian Invasions-Movie Review 02/10/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Cannes Film Festival, César Awards, Comedy, David di Donatello Awards, Emotional Drama, French (Canadian) language film, Golden Globes, Movies.
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The Barbarian Invasions (French-Canadian) 2003
Les invasions barbares

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film (Arcand); NOMINATED, Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Arcand), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Croze); Best Screenplay (Arcand), NOMINATED, Palme D’Or (Arcand), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Director, Best Film, Best Writing (Arcand), NOMINATED, Most Promising Actress (Croze), César Awards
WINNER, David Award-Best Foreign Film (Arcand), David Di Donatello Awards

Written and directed by Denys Arcand
Starring Rémy Girard, Dorothée Berryman, Stéphane Rousseau, and Marie-Josée Croze

One of those unassuming French films that sneaks up on you with humor and sentimentality and develops into a solid story that is both charming and touching. Rémy Girard stars as Rémy, a middle-aged man facing illness and the end of his life with the help of friends and his formerly estranged family. It soon becomes apparent that Rémy’s friends and family members hold very different perceptions of him.

Although the premise sounds depressing, and serious issues are certainly presented, there is much entertainingly clever and funny dialogue as well. However, one scene reminded me of the “what sentence does not belong in this paragraph” questions in Language Arts tests. Let me know if you have the same reaction and to what scene.

This film is the sequel to 1986’s The Decline of the American Empire, which follows the trials and tribulations of Rémy and the same group of friends at much younger ages. I watched that after seeing The Barbarian Invasions (a post about the earlier film will follow soon); watching the two in that order didn’t detract from either one. I thoroughly enjoyed both movies.

99 min. Rated R. Adult themes.