7 December 2018.
LETO ***1/2 (vo Russian)
This indy homage to two Russian rock/punk stars of 1980s Leningrad was quite a hit at the 2018 Cannes film festival. Ironically, its director Kiril Serebrennikov was one of two directors in the Palme d’Or lineup (the other being Jafar Panahi of Iran, with his film ‘Three Faces’) who were under house arrest in their respective countries, and could not attend the festival. Leto, which means summer in Russian, went on to win the Cannes Soundtrack award, and the Production Design prize at the European Film Awards, while Panahi’s film won the Best Screenplay award at Cannes.
This tale of the rock scene in 1980s Russia filmed in innovative black and white is as cool, and yet nostalgic as you can get. With its mix of free love, great rock and poetic lyrics in an almost psychedelic musical, it harks back to the Beatle years and yet feels as fresh as Hollywood’s “LalaLand” felt a few years ago. One is transported to another era as it portrays the state’s heavy-handed politics with kid gloves, while charming us with the real-life love triangle that evolved between the cool rock star, his lovely wife and his up-and-coming protégé, Viktor Tsoi of the band Kino. Don’t miss this intoxicating example of the bohemian Russian ‘soul’.
PUPILLE ***1/2 (vo French)
If this fictional film is anything close to the truth, it shows a France with a huge heart and the resources for finding the right parents for adoptive babies and children. This delicate, tender yet realistic film from Jeanne Herry comes at us from all sides: the mother giving up her baby; the intermediate parent taking care of it while it awaits adoption; the hopeful future parents; and the amazing team of professionals taking care to make the whole human puzzle fit together. And then of course, the baby or pupille, Theo.
The film beautifully juggles all these components to make the audience aware of the facts, while touching the heart deeply. You may need a few tissues.
And the actors are brilliant: Gilles Lellouche plays a man willing to be a temporary foster-parent to babies abandoned by their mothers. Sandrine Kiberlain is the caring coordinator (her explanation of the situation to baby Theo is heartbreakingly beautiful); Miou Miou is the director of the social workers, while a very touching Elodie Bouchez plays the woman who wants the baby. The whole thing is inspiring and quite wondrous.
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.