21 October 2016.
L’ODYSSÉE **** (vo French)
In a film that is both grandiose and personal, Jérôme Salle has created a touching and deeply immersive biopic about the famous French conservationist, Commandant Jacques Cousteau, his family and his heritage.
The man was not an angel – but who is? He may have preferred one son to the other, he may have let fame and glory go to his head or had a roving eye, but his vision and his passion for his work were his driving force. There were first his diving inventions and the exploring of marine life on their beloved Calypso, then filming his exploits and dreaming of creating an underwater world, and finally realizing the importance of protecting our planet earth – with the help of his son Philippe – before the Al Gores and DiCaprios of today.
There’s no doubt that Cousteau was an environmental giant, and Salle’s film is a meticulously conceived homage to his life. The seamless editing, magnificent cinematography and haunting music of Alexandre Desplat are the framework for recounting the various stages of his life with clarity, yet simplicity of dialogue. It spans from the idyllic years with a lovely wife and his young sons on the Mediterranean to his work in the waters of the Persian Gulf, to those around South Africa and finally the unconquered expanses of Antartica, with much in between.
But it is the fine acting that drives the film – Lambert Wilson is superb as Cousteau, while Pierre Niney (surpassing himself with each new role – as Yves Saint Laurent or as Ozon’s Frantz) portrays Philippe with a certainty that is quite remarkable. And Audrey Tautou is very moving as his devoted wife, Simone.
This is a film that should not be missed, for it is history, family and passion for one’s lifework all rolled into an unforgettable tribute to an exceptional man.
MA VIE DE COURGETTE **** (vo French)
This delightfully innocent clay-figure animation about a little boy’s time in an orphanage is a true gem for all kids from 4 to 94. Take your children, take a friend or a parent, but above all, take yourself, for this is a film with a touching humanism that is utterly charming.
There is Courgette, the little kid who’s just lost his mother. There is Raymond, the sweetest policeman ever, who takes a liking to Courgette. And there is the nicest orphanage you could ever imagine. Actually, that’s what is so special about this tender tale from Swiss director, Claude Barras: he has made a film where there is some goodness in each of his quirky, distinct characters. And you feel elated when you come out – that’s a rarity these days.
It enchanted Cannes when it was shown at the Quinzaine de Réalisateurs, and won the Prix de Public at Annecy. Just run to it!
MAL DE PIERRES *** (vo French)
Nicole Garcia is a French actress who turned film director some years ago with such character-driven films as “Place Vendôme” or “Un balcon sur la mer”. This latest film of hers was in competition at Cannes this year. Its fascination is the mystery of the woman portrayed by the always powerful Marion Cotillard, who in 2008 won an Oscar for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in “La Môme.
There is an arranged marriage for a rebellious daughter somewhere in the French countryside during the 1950s; there is the patient, watchful husband; and there is a period of convalescence in an isolated sanitarium with a striking young officer (Louis Garrel) who is also quite ill. Here, a passion rises between them that may change their lives.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
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.