Ever since I was a child, celebrating my birthday was always traumatizing for me. However, a couple years ago I discovered both COLCOA and Brit Week—both of which take place the week of my birthday. In case you’re not familiar, COLCOA is the City of Lights, City of Angeles Film Festival, a nine-day French Film Festival that takes place in LA, premiering some of France’s well-received and/or much anticipated films of the year. Brit Week is a number of events spread throughout LA celebrating the Brits. It’s my favorite thing—films, fun, and fabulousness. So now, I always look forward to my birthday, because instead of saying “nothing” in response to questions about my birthday plans, I now have a less pathetic response.
While I didn’t have the chance to screen all the films showing there, of the ones I did screen, I can tell you a few standouts. I highly recommend these films.
The first is a charming film called, Gemma Bovery. Anne Fontaine, the mastermind behind great films like Coco Before Chanel, Chloe, and The Girl From Monaco, brings us this romantic dramedy and Madame Bovary inspired tale. It’s about Martin, who has moved back to a Norman village from Paris, to take over his father’s bakery. He is intrigued by the English couple who has moved in across the road from him, and how their lives seem to be taking bits out of the classic Flaubert novel—not to mention their names are Gemma and Charles Bovery. The French countryside sets up and immediately draws you into this romantic and whimsical story. Gemma, played by the sensual and mesmerizing Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters), perfectly captures the bored but curiously intriguing essence that is Madame Bovary. However, it’s Fabrice Lochini’s impeccable comedic timing that moves this story along. You see classic novels be remade, modernized, or used as the pivotal metaphor in films all the time, but the way Anne Fontaine executed this, both as writer and director, is a fresh and unique twist. I bet you never thought Madame Bovary could make you laugh.
The second is a riveting performance by Pierre Niney in Un homme ideal. Niney won Best Actor at the César Awards (the French version of the Oscars), for his performance as Yves Saint Laurent, in the film about the late designer. At 26, with his talent, his classical training, and his passion, he is no doubt to become a household name worldwide. Un Homme Ideal, will take you for a psychologically thrilling ride—be prepared. The whole time you are just wondering what is going to happen? How is he going to get out of this alive? Is he going to get out of this alive? Often times, thrillers can be quite predictable—this is not that kind of thriller. This film will keep you in suspense even through the ending.
The third film I greatly enjoyed was a romantic comedy titled, Un peu, beaucoup, aveuglément and Clovis Cornillac’s (A Very Long Engagement) directorial debut. This was another refreshing take on a genre. It reminded me of the romantic comedies from the 1940’s, like the Fred and Ginger movies—minus all the singing and dancing, though there was a bit of singing—and the leads don’t kiss until the very end, and you can feel the passion, and fireworks exploding out of your heart. It’s a quirky little story that starts with Chopin, and shows us all the senses that make love all that it is—passion, companionship, liberty, individuality. Mélanie Bernier, the leading lady here, is a darling. She reminds me of a delightful combination of Emily Blunt and Zoey Deschanel. Cornillac, though not so well-known in the States, is a star in his own right. I thought his directorial debut was brilliant, and that he was equally brilliant as the lead. I know he had preferred to stay out of this film, but I’m glad he ultimately decided otherwise. Another thing—I think what tied this story up nicely with a sparkly pink ribbon was the outstanding soundtrack.
If you’re looking for just good storytelling and entertianment, you really must see these films when possible. I don’t know their release dates in various territories, but do look them up. I also don’t believe any of them have US distributors yet; however, I’m sure we will see them on at least Netflix soon.
BIG LOVE & HUGS