We've got three French-language Films playing this month!
Directed by Ladj Ly France 2019 | 103 minutes
JAN 31 - FEB 5
The film takes its title from Victor Hugo’s work, set in the same Montfermeil district of Paris, where ages ago a revolution was born against an oppressive social system. Here, two veterans of the police anti-crime brigade introduce a newcomer to their way of policing. But their beat is populated by immigrants who are finding their voices and losing patience with the old world politics and the gun-toting privilege and cowboy tactics of the cops. A series of small incidents occur in the aftermath of France’s victory in the World Cup and things quickly escalate to a heated and violent confrontation. Like the best cop film thrillers, Les Misérables brims with menace and building tension leading to an action-packed climax. Fast, gritty and smart, Les Misérables is Recommended.
French with subtitles.
And the Birds Rained Down (Il Pleuvait des Oiseaux)
Directed by Louise Archambault Canada 2019 | 127 minutes
Rated PG (sexual content, coarse language
“And the Birds Rained Down homes in on a loose alternative family of oldies and drifters living in the backwoods of Quebec. A quiet, gentle film about emotional and geographic exile, this melancholic charmer is a choral character study whose slow pacing matches the unhurried lifestyle of its protagonists. There’s a resonance to the film’s probing of lost and found love, age and displacement. In a beautifully shot opening sequence, we are introduced to a trio of white-haired old men who live in cabins in the woods and bathe together in the lake. Ted (Kenneth Welsh) is a taciturn painter who traps rabbits, Tom (Rémy Girard) is a guitar-strumming musician and singer, while the wary Charlie (Gilbert Sicotte) seems to be the unofficial headman of the group, and the one who, at first, most fiercely defends them from outsiders. Steve (Éric Robidoux), a thirty-something who owns a hunting lodge nearby, is the only one allowed into their woodland realm to deliver supplies. Through him, two outsiders arrive to disturb the fragile equilibrium. One is Steve’s elderly aunt – Gertrude (Andrée Lachapelle), a long-term resident of a psychiatric institution. The other is Raf (Ève Landry), a female photographer who is compiling testimonies of the ‘Great Fire’ that happened at some point in the past and taking portraits of the survivors. On one level, And the Birds Rained Down (that’s what happened during the Great Fire, it seems) is a small bucolic drama about a group of misfits who re-create a more caring society away from society. But it’s also about the importance of individual and collective memory, about whether we have a right to disappear or a duty to bear witness.”—Lee Marshall, Screen International. Recommended.
In French and English with subtitles.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu)
Directed by Celine Sciamma France 2019 | 119 minutes
FEB 28 - MAR 3 “Céline Sciamma’s Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, a romance set in late 18th-century France, works on all sorts of levels: It’s a tender but complex love story, a slice of social commentary about the kinds of life and work opportunities historically available to women, and a gorgeous period piece. The picture is thoughtful and intense, a great example of how a well-told story, with vivid characters, can seep into your bones and keep you thinking for days afterward. A painter, Marianne (Noémie Merlant), arrives on the coast of Brittany to produce a portrait of a young woman, Héloïse (Adéle Haenel). The portrait is meant to assure a prospective future husband of the charms of his wife-to-be. Upon her arrival, Marianne learns that a previous painter has failed in his mission, driven away by Héloïse. Marianne is instructed to pose as a companion to Héloïse, and paint her in secret. The two young women begin their tentative friendship by going out walking. And right away Marianne begins to see how Héloïse must have broken the other painter: social niceties don’t concern her; she never obliges with a smile. Beyond that, she’s so intensely cryptic and self-possessed that Marianne can’t help wanting to know more. What Marianne and Héloïse find in one another speaks volumes about the constraints of the larger world around them. This radiantly sensual film ends on the perfect note, a rush of emotional intensity that’s wrapped in a secret, as hushed as the rustle of silk.”—Stephanie Zacharek, Time.
In French with subtitles.