The Colours Blogathon: Betty Blue (1986)

betty-blue-movie-poster-1986-1010355058Catherine at Thoughts All Sorts is hosting The Colours Blogathon, and my contribution to this amazing and colourful parade of entries is a French cult classic film from the year 1983 called “37°2 Le Matin” or simply “Betty Blue“. Nominated in 1986 for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category, this film of a passionate, but doomed love affair is now almost iconic. It exquisitely, stylishly and powerfully narrates and presents the love story of Zorg and Betty, initially written by Philippe Djian, the author behind “Elle(2016). Faithful to the book, this movie is like its main heroine, Betty: undeniably beautiful, unashamedly erotic and sensual, and also a bit crazy and self-indulgent, capable of finding beauty in tragedy and charmingly rendering it through a cinematic prism. In “Betty Blue”, what you may find is both an artfully erotic cinematic take on a moving love story, and an uncomfortable film filled with both familiar and unfamiliar character studies. Add to this a beautiful soundtrack by Gabriel Yared and a delightfully colourful cinematography, and you have a truly memorable film about passionate love gone awry.   

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“Raw” Review

raw posterRaw (2016)

Julia Ducournau’s debut feature film “Raw” provoked extreme reactions from the critics and audiences alike. Despite its grim story and graphic imagery, the film managed to gain an all-round critical acclaim. “Raw” is a French-language film about an adolescent girl Justine (Garance Marillier) who enters her first year at a veterinary school in France. There, Justine joins her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf), and soon realises that the life of first-year students at the school is not an easy ride, and her recently-acquired (and initially forced) passion for raw meat is the cause for major concern. Realistic in its presentation, the film is known for its graphic scenes of cannibalism, but, ironically, its most shocking premise is not the immoral craving of another being’s flesh, but the film’s ghastly and disturbing setting.

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“Personal Shopper” Mini-Review

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Personal Shopper (2016)

In “Personal Shopper”, a film of Olivier Assayas (“Paris, je t’aime” (2006)), Kristen Stewart plays a young woman Maureen who mourns the loss of her twin brother Lewis. Maureen visits the house where Lewis lived with his girlfriend, and believes that his ghost will try to communicate with her. In her daily job, Maureen is a personal shopper to a rich and famous star in Paris, a job she dislikes and only too keen to break the “rules” of her employment now and then. Soon her personal identity issues mix with her paranormal beliefs, producing restlessness and paranoia. Although admirable in its fresh approach, the film is also unfocused and dull. It tries at least three different points of focus: a ghost story; a murder mystery; and a high-society critique, all of which are underdeveloped and none of which work to a satisfactory conclusion.

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“Elle” Review

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Elle (2016)

**SPOILER ALERT**

A Dutch director known for “Basic Instinct” (1992) and “Total Recall” (1990), Paul Verhoeven, has produced his first French-language film to date – “Elle”, based on a novel by Philippe Dijan (also known as the writer of “Betty Blue” (1986)). “Elle” has already competed for a Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2016, and deals with a very sensitive topic of a rape perpetuated on a successful businesswoman Michele Leblanc, whose complex relationship with her family and the deeply-seated psychological trauma experienced during childhood, lead her to have an unconventional response to the attack. This film is as disturbing as it is engrossing, and, overall, proves to be a very satisfying experience, thanks to an outstanding performance by Isabelle Huppert (“The Piano Teacher” (2001)), and due to a masterful (though also confusing) mix of a psychological thriller, a Hitchcockian detective story and French black humour.        

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“Far from Men” Trailer

“La Belle et la Bête” Trailer

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This may not be Jean Cocteau classic, but something must explain its current opening success in Italy. There are things here I like: Vincent Cassel as Beast/Prince, a powerful soundtrack and great visuals. I hear the story does not live up to all the visuals, but it’s a rule, rather than an exception today. Apparently, there is another “Beauty and the Beast” movie to be announced with Emma Watson in it, but we will also see other Disney animation-themed movies soon. Joe Wright is directing “Pan” (2015), “the origin” story of Peter Pan staring Hugh Jackman; “Maleficent” (2014) with Angelina Jolie is coming soon, and we anticipate (for years now) “a darker version” of the fairytale “Pinocchio” (2016) – an animated film directed by Guillermo del Toro.

My 10 Favourite French-Language Films

Modern era and in no particular order:

1. La Haine (Hate) (1995)

 Haine

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