11 January 2019.
What a week…three completely different films…The first one about one of France’s finest writers, Edmond Rostand of the classic romance, “Cyrano de Bergerac”; the other a gentle, social comedy about a group of homeless women; and the last about a boxing family going back to the “Rocky” days. All worth your while.
CREED 2 **1/2
This is the testosterone-filled umpteenth sequel of the ongoing Rocky saga. Good old Sylvester Stallone keeps them coming, from the Oscar-winning original in 1976, through four Rockys until he changed gears to portray a tired fighter in “Rocky Balboa”, and on to the “Creed” franchise.
Eight films in over 40 years, with Stallone writing most of them, directing four of them, and acting in all of them. Quite a feat and still going strong – as a wise and tired coach to the new generation. His mix of tough good guy, brutal boxing battles and a great deal of schmalz makes for bombastic popcorn entertainment and a legion of fans.
In Creed 2, he pits the two offspring of long-opposed fighters, with the added touch of Russia versus America. It’s about brain and endurance versus brawn, with some female love and encouragement, or not… Definitely worth your while if this is your ‘cup of tea’…or rather your punch in the gut.
EDMOND ***1/2 (vo French)
For me, the very French Cyrano de Bergerac has always been the most eloquent and beautiful romance of all time. Yes, even beyond Romeo and Juliette. A play written completely in verse, a touching, spiritual, intellectual love story to make your head spin and your heart ache. A play that has been performed continuously since its debut in 1897. There have also been many film versions, the best being that of Jean-Paul Rappeneau with Gérard Depardieu as Cyrano.
This film by writer/director Alexis Michalik (adapting here his own successful theater piece) has gone behind the scenes, portraying the very chaotic birth of the play by Edmond Rostand, at the turn of the last century. It’s a bit like John Madden’s “Shakespeare in Love” (which actually inspired Michalik), which portrayed the Bard writing his great romance.
There is the young Edmond, a budding, talented playwright; there is the grand actor (Olivier Goumet) who eggs him on for a new play; there is the demanding prima donna actress (Mathilde Seigner), plus her insistent backers; and the sweet wife waiting patiently at home, while Edmond is inspired by a new ingenue, along with her simpleton suitor… It’s almost as thrilling as ‘Cyrano’ of the protruding nose…” When it bleeds, it is the Red Sea…!”
Wonderfully acted, funny, enthusiastic, light as a feather, this is a film you won’t want to miss if you appreciate the best of art and its creation.
LES INVISIBLES *** (vo. French)
Now here is the exact opposite – a gritty, contemporary look at a group of homeless women in a shelter in France, which is being closed down by the municipality. Its tender yet humorous treatment of the various eccentric, destitute women and their committed caretakers is deeply moving. When the French make a good ‘reality’ film, it is often convincing and eye-opening, as in the recent “Pupille”, about the very caring government adoption agencies in that country.
This one is the tale of dedicated women trying to inspire and re-insert back into productive life those that circumstances have crushed down. With great characters, both among the employees as well as the needy women, this amusing and touching film by Louis-Julien Petit has taken established actresses (Audrey Lamy, Noémie Lvovsky) as well as amateur players to create an authentic atmosphere of both frustration and hope. In the recent climate of social tensions in France, this gentle comedy touches an important nerve in the social conscience.
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.