23 October 2015.
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.
ASPHALTE (Macadam Stories) **** (vo French)
A dismal banlieue somewhere in France, a few stray characters in a rundown apartment building, and a slow tale that somehow connects them. One might think here is a film to avoid. On the contrary – be sure to catch it before it’s gone! For this film by Samuel Benchetrit is a sublime drama about the need for sharing, for connecting, with a neighbor, an astronaut (a perfect Michael Pitt), or a stranger. Yes, the neighbors are there, normal, dull people, but the astronaut?! Well, he just fell from the sky…and ends up staying in the flat of a generous, older French/Arab woman.
Don’t ask. Just go see this bittersweet gem that puts together such varied actors as Benchetrit’s own angel-faced son Jules (with the tragically-deceased Marie Trintignant), Isabelle Huppert, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, or the lonely loser, Gustave Kervern.
Benchetrit has created here a droll Jarmuschian environment that slowly vibrates, finally turning into an emotional cauldron of humanity.
THE MARTIAN (Seul sur Mars) ***1/2
Director Ridley Scott, actor Matt Damon, location Mars. Powerful stars!
Yes, Damon gets left on Mars, alone, cut off from Earth and his team of astronauts. Despite quite a bit of scientific jargon and the vast, empty spaces of Mars, Scott makes sure we are fully with his stranded man on this arid planet, living his anxiety, his courage and his amazing will. For it’s all about the pure energy of survival.
And when all is said and done there is that feeling of satisfaction which is the mark of a successful film. When you almost feel like cheering for our clear-eyed hero.
Thumbs up once again to the unstoppable Scott, director of such varied works as “Alien”, “Blade Runner”, “Thelma & Louise”, “Gladiator”, “Body of Lies” or “A Good Year” amongst so many others. His films are all about bringing the grandiose to the human level.
MON ROI *** (vo French)
This year’s Cannes award for best actress went ex aequo to,French actress Emmanuelle Bercot (also director of the superb film, “La Tête haute”), for her convincing portrayal of a woman almost destroyed by a charming but egotistical lover (Vincent Cassel is excellent) in this intimate film. By Maiwenn Besco, who last made the powerful movie “Polisse”, it is both romantic and painful, ringing authentic in its couple’s dialogue.
Cassel is like a tornado which both woos and devastates Bercot’s character. Ending up in a convalescent home, she relives her intense moments with him as she begins to re-emerge as a person again. Some of her experiences with her new young friends feel superfluous and silly compared to the depth of the couple that was. It is in fact those moments together that tip the balance of the film to almost-brilliance.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars