This is director-actress Noémie Lvovsky’s hit dramedy of last fall, which has received thirteen César award nominations (French Oscars), tying the César record. The ceremony is this evening, so we’ll see how many it actually wins. The pic is a French version of Francis Coppola’s ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’, where the 40-year-old protag, Camille (Lvovksy’s character), is being dumped by her husband—whom she met in high school, so the only man she’s ever been with—for a younger woman and whose life is falling apart as a result, so gets transported back in time to right matters and make it so she never got involved with the jerk to begin with. The movie is thus Camille back in the 11th grade and at home with her parents, though in her 40-year old body. For those who were teens in France in the mid 1980s, the pic is a trip down memory lane. I thought it was pleasant and entertaining enough, though wasn’t as bowled over as were local critics, who positively loved it (spectator reviews on Allociné, while grosso modo positive, were somewhat more tepid). US critics who saw it at Cannes last year were also generally, though not unreservedly, positive (here and here), though I do agree with Variety’s Justin Chang, who called it “an amiable comedy that ultimately goes on too long without taking its back-to-the-past premise in an emotionally satisfying direction.” US foreign film aficionados will be able to decide for themselves whenever it opens outre-Atlantique (I predict they’ll like it).
BTW, the film’s English title, ‘Camille Rewinds’, in an inaccurate rendering of the original. “Redouble” is the third person present tense of the verb redoubler, which means to repeat a grade (in school). Thus, Camille repeats the grade (here, the 11th)…
Two films have received ten César nominations each for tonight’s ceremony, ‘Amour’ and ‘Les Adieux à la reine’ (‘Farewell, My Queen’), both of which I’ve posted on. The first I liked, bien évidemment (did anyone not? I do know one actually, but he’s an outlier, on this as on cinema in general) [SEE UPDATE]; the second I did not like at all. Or, rather, it bored me to tears. ‘Holy Motors’, which I have not seen, received nine nominations. I avoided this when it hit the salles and despite the dithyrambic reviews, as it looked a little too much like David Cronenberg’s ‘Cosmopolis, which I absolutely HATED. But a couple of friends whose taste I trust have praised it to the heavens—including the one with whom I saw ‘Cosmopolis’, and who entirely shared my sentiments on it—, so I’ll catch it on DVD at some point.
One film that has received two César acting nominations is Pascal Bonitzer’s ‘Cherchez Hortenese’, with the always good Jean-Pierre Bacri and Kristin Scott Thomas. A “loquacious Gallic dramedy” as one US critic called it, “a pleasant, lightweight piece of entertainment, very French in spirit,” in the words of another. Yes, very French, including the title itself, that refers to a Rimbaud poem, which not a soul outside France (academic specialists of 19th century French literature excepted) will know a thing about. The film was perfectly acceptable, though also entirely forgettable. One little problem I had with it was that the Bacri and Claude Rich characters—who were son and father (and are the film’s two César nominees)—were both fifteen years older—in appearance and real life—than their characters in the film (e.g. Claude Rich looks to be in his 80s in the film, but the maximum retirement age of state functionaries, of which his character is, is 67). It’s a detail but a distracting one.
Two well-received films from the fall got no César nominations whatever. One was Olivier Assayas’s ‘Après Mai’ (English title: ‘Something in the Air’), which is a somewhat biographical reenactment of the director’s political activism as a high school student in the early 1970s. I was really looking forward to this film, as I thought Assayas’s epic biopic on Carlos (the terrorist) was excellent and ‘Après mai’ was billed by critics as a faithful reconstitution of the milieu of the post-May ’68 extreme left (thus the title) and the time period in general. And on this level, the film did succeed (entre autres, if one needs any reminding of the odiousness and loathsomeness of the French police, see the opening scene). But while French critics loved it—and with most US critics also enthusiastic (here, here, and here)—I noted that spectators on Allociné did somewhat less so. And as I’ve said more than once, when there’s a noticeable discrepancy between the appreciation of critics and spectators, go with the spectators. I indeed left the cinema somewhat dissatisfied, though couldn’t quite say why. This US review put its finger on it:
The major problem however, is that most of the characters aren’t terribly interesting. Of the young leads, only one, Armand, is older than 20, and most are in their first acting roles. Assayas seems to have cast as much for look, and for an evocation of the period, as anything else, but sadly most of the actors (bar Métayer and the more experienced Créton) struggle to make much of an impression, falling into a kind of bland prettiness.
This said, I don’t want to discourage anyone from seeing it. Il faut le voir et juger pour soi-même. [SEE UPDATES BELOW]
The other well-reviewed film was Elie Wajeman’s ‘Alyah’, about a Parisian Jewish layabout drug dealer—I guess they do exist—who decides to get his act together, get away from his family, and do aliyah to Israel, a country he has never visited and has no particular interest in. Interesting theme, enough to get me to see it. US critics, like their French counterparts, gave the film the thumbs up (here, here, and here) but it left me indifferent. Ça arrive.
Back to tonight’s Césars, here are my preferences (not predictions, as most of my choices have little to no chance of winning). (N.B. I have seen all the films in the categories in question except for ‘Holy Motors’, ‘Les Saveurs du palais’, and ‘Quelques heures du printemps’.)
Best film: Dans la maison
Best director: François Ozon (Dans la maison)
Best actor: Jérémie Renier (Cloclo)
Best actress: Corinne Masiero (Louise Wimmer)
Best actor in a supporting role: Guillaume de Tonquédec (Le Prénom)
Best actress in a supporting role: Valérie Benguigui (Le Prénom)
UPDATE: I got it right for best supporting actor and actress but for the rest, it was ‘Amour‘ all the way. How could it be otherwise? ‘Camille redouble’ won nothing. I was pleased to see that Cyril Mennegun’s ‘Louise Wimmer’ won the award for best first film.
2nd UPDATE: FWIW, Ron Radosh—a 1960s leftist turned right-winger—liked Olivier Assayas’s ‘Something in the Air’. (May 20)
3rd UPDATE: Luc Sante has a review of ‘Something in the Air’ in the July 21, 2013, New York Review of Books.
4th UPDATE: The unnamed person whom I referred to as “an outlier [on 'Amour'] as on cinema in general”—who is, in fact, a good friend—, informs me that several other persons in his entourage—as well as in mine, so he reminds me—were also “not keen” on Michael Haneke’s film. Dont acte.
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