I tweeted just yesterday about my addiction for French movies. And it’s true, I am addicted. I blame Amélie, fully and completely. I think I may have watched every single movie Audrey Tautou has ever starred in (except The DaVinci Code series, because I boycott anything even remotely related to Dan Brown). Marion Cotillard as well. I watched every French movie Kristin Scott Thomas is in. Currently downloading Gerard Depardieu’s movies, and the list goes on…
I’m sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg, but I’m pretty selective when it comes to movies. I rarely watch romantic comedies, I hate gore, anything with mental illness(es) is more than welcome; indie movies? bring it on!; weird directing, yes please!; movies that leave you numb for hours and make you search for every cultural reference? unknown movies from Cannes, TIFF…? You get the idea.
I usually like to find my movies on RottenTomatoes, their tomatometer is 75% of the time accurate. IMDB isn’t entirely reliable… And Jinni has stopped evolving in the 50’s.
But the problem with RottenTomatoes is that they don’t offer suggestions, which they should. And well, their critics tend to exaggerate sometimes when it comes to ratings.
Anyway, here’s my story.
I was browsing through RottenTomatoes late one night, just after having watched Audrey Tautou’s “Dirty Pretty Things” (good one!). And I read about this new French movie called “Before Midnight”. It intrigued me because 1, it’s a french movie, and 2, it’s very highly rated (certified fresh). One click leads to another and I find out that it’s actually the third installment of a trilogy. The first movie, “Before Sunrise”, was filmed in 1994, the second one, “Before Sunset”, in 2003, and the third one, now in 2013.
The trilogy, directed by Richard Linklater, is about an American guy, Jesse (Ethan Hawke), and a French girl, Céline (Julie Delpy), who happen to meet on a train on their way to Vienna, and the adventure that ensues. The second installment is what happens when they meet 10 years later in Paris, etc. Not much of a story, because all three movies take place in less than 24 hours… Plus, it’s a talkative kind of a romantic comedy where they discuss big philosophical ideas and small mundane stories.
It shouldn’t work in theory (romantic comedy, and French at that!). But the first movie is surprisingly good, the second one even better, so great that I did not want it to end (the third one hasn’t been released yet).
“Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset” were my first experiences with Julie Delpy who came off as a pretty face, a good enough actress, who speaks English well… But as a screenwriter, she likes to veer on touchy subjects and enjoys throwing unexpected, misplaced, vulgar remarks in the dialogue, which don’t really work. I was much more impressed by Ethan Hawke in “Before Sunset”: the way he conveyed his conflicting emotions with only his eyes as a medium, was absolutely superb!
I tried my luck today with another one of Delpy’s movies, “Two Days In Paris”, where she triples as actress, screenwriter and director. 85 % of RottenTomatoes’ critics and 70% of the users liked it.
In my humble opinion, it’s a total flop.
It’s about a French woman, Marion, and her American boyfriend (sounds familiar?), who pass by Paris to visit her parents. Two days in Paris, two days full of close encounters with her numerous exes, bad sex scandals, a lot of jealousy… And a great deal of vulgar dialogue, courtesy of Marion, her weird parents, and her vulgar friends who like to call themselves artists and create disgusting “works of art”.
So, I was disappointed. And I really wanted to rant about it. That’s the whole reason behind this post to be honest…
There’s one last Audrey Tautou movie I haven’t watched, “Thérèse Desqueyroux”. It should restore my faith in French movies – it was never lost to begin with, just a bit taken aback by the hot mess Julie Delpy created on my laptop screen… Much like her hair actually, one hot mess…!
PS: I’m starting to question those things some people like to call “art” nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, I love abstract and surrealist art… But I mean, have you seen Damien Hirst’s “sculptures” which consist of severed body parts of dead cows and sharks?! AWFUL.
French movies, what to watch:
- Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain
- A Very Long Engagement
- Before Sunrise
- Midnight In Paris (not a French movie technically… but it’s about Paris, directed by Woody Allen, and it’s beautiful!)
What would you add to my list? I am constantly on the lookout for new movies and would very much appreciate your suggestions!