Discovering and watching movies is a hobby of mine. During summer especially, I develop a slight obsession with certain directors, actors, or film genres. I am well past and beyond my Wuxia phase; I have watched every single movie directed by Darren Aronofsky, or featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jared Leto, Angelina Jolie or Audrey Tautou; my list of classical Hollywood movies is ever receding… and my love for French films will never cease.
Which is why I bring to you today my French discovery of the year, actor and director Guillaume Canet.
Canet is quite the sensation at the moment in France. His resume boasts several critically acclaimed films, and the tabloids cannot get enough of his personal life, which he quietly shares with Marion Cotillard and their son, Marcel. He is often associated with the same actors, be it onscreen or behind the camera: François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche. What struck me most about the films he directs is his choice of soundtrack: they usually feature 70’s and 80’s classics, from U2 to Janis Joplin. As to his performances as an actor, I shall let you be the judge! 😀
In no particular order, here are six of Guillaume Canet’s best movies for you to discover!
1. Ne Le Dis A Personne (Tell No One) – Director/Actor
An international hit upon its release, Canet’s second feature film is a noir thriller based on a novel by Harlan Coben.
Alexander Beck, portrayed by François Cluzet, tries to get his life back together after the murder of his wife Margot, of which he was considered the prime suspect. Eight years later, when two corpses are found near the location of Margot’s murder, the case is reopened and he becomes a suspect yet again. The same day, he receives a link to a video-surveillance camera showing Margot older and very much alive. It soon becomes apparent to him that he is being followed, and goes on the run to save his life and find the truth about Margot.
Also starring: Gilles Lellouche, Kristin Scott Thomas and Guillaume Canet.
2. Jeux d’Enfants (Love Me If You Dare) – Actor
After losing his mother, Julien (Guillaume Canet) got ever closer to his Polish classmate Sophie (Marion Cotillard), becoming best friends. Their outrageous dares, symbolized by an interchanged music-box, grows into a fearless competition to outdo one another over the years, and threatens to suspend their relationship. While they often act out to relieve one another’s pain, their game might be a way to avoid the fact that they are truly meant for one another.
Also starring: Gilles Lellouche.
3. Les Petits Mouchoirs (Little White Lies) – Director
Canet’s third feature film stars Francois Cluzet, Gilles Lellouche, Jean Dujardin and Marion Cotillard.
A group of friends decide to go on with their annual beach vacation plans despite the near-fatal accident of one of them, whom they leave at the hospital, alone. Throughout the summer, their friendship is sorely tested, and they are finally forced to own up to the lies they have been telling each other.
4. Ensemble, C’est Tout (Hunting and Gathering) – Actor
When Camille (Audrey Tautou), an artist and cleaning lady, falls severely ill, she is taken under the wing of her aristocratic friend and neighbor who insists on looking after her. She moves to his house and meets Franck (Guillaume Canet), her friend’s lodger. Even though she and Franck clash, the trio manage to live together and make it better for themselves.
5. Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas) – Actor
On the Christmas Eve of 1914, in the Western Front in France in World War I, the German, French, and Scottish troops put their differences aside and got to know the men who live behind the various front-lines, in what became a true lesson of humanity.
Starring: Guillaume Canet, Diane Krüger and Daniel Brühl.
6. L’Affaire Farewell (Farewell) – Actor
Based on a true story, Farewell recounts the tale of a Soviet intelligence operative, portrayed by Emir Kusturica, who becomes so disillusioned with life under Communism that he decides to work against his government for the good of the people. He starts leaking classified documents to the West, through an inconspicuous French engineer based in Moscow (Guillaume Canet). His actions set off an unfortunate chain of events which may have very well changed the course of history.