This week’s picks are Swiss and French. One, a documentary on the homeless in our midst; the other, a classic French pleasure. Both views are essential.
L’ABRI *** (vo French)
We are in a center for the homeless in Lausanne. It is winter and there are too many in need of a bed, food and shelter for the night – blacks, whites, Roms, whole families trying to get in – but there is limited space here. The social workers do not have it easy, how do you choose among so many needy? Here’s another difficult but important documentary from the relentless, socially-minded Swiss/Spanish director Fernand Melgar, who with multi-awarded films such as “Vol spécial”, “La forteresse”, or “EXIT, le droit de mourir” immerses us in the vast world of the downtrodden, the hopeless.
His empathy is palpable and this is a necessary view into the miseries of those from whom we often look away. See it, feel for them – what else should/could be done?
BON RETABLISSEMENT! *** (vo French)
And then there is the prolific French director Jean Becker, of such passionate and tender films as “L’été meurtrier”, “Les enfants du marais”, La Tête en friche”. Becker is so human and classic in his viewpoint that intello critics often deride him for being too sentimental, for he tells real stories of people and their feelings. In this latest one (the man is 76, may he continue for many more years!), he has the virile Gérard Lanvin stuck in a hospital bed after a freak accident. A gruff loner, Lanvin’s character neither remembers the accident, nor wants to have anything to do with all the doctors, nurses or strange visitors that come through his room. The film brings in the outside world and takes us through his “recovery” with sharp dialogue that is highly amusing, yet with a delicacy that may put a lump or two in your throat. Lanvin is simply perfect for the role.