4 September 2020.
LES PLUS BELLES ANNEES D’UNE VIE **** (vo French)
After last week’s two blockbuster releases full of chaos and viciousness we now have respite in this gentle reverie. But then that’s what director Claude Lelouch is known for – his consistent wonder at things of the heart and his passion for a cinema of nostalgic escapism. That’s why so many fans idolize him and a majority of jaded (or too-young) critics disdain him.
It all started with his sublime romance, “ Un homme et une femme” (“A Man and a Woman”), starring Anouk Aimée and Jean-Louis Trintignant, which won the 1966 Palme d’Or in Cannes and later an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It has continued with almost 50 films about love, intertwined relationships, amusing adventures and both painful and evocative memories.
In this film he has brought back Aimée and Trintignant in all their glorious ageing maturity – one an elegant mother and grandmother in Deauville, the other a fading old gentleman in a fine retirement home. Lelouch’s ruse here is not only their tender conversations, but a romance that continues with their offspring. Their encounter after so many years is moving, especially if you have seen and loved the original. It’s obvious that Lelouch had a great time editing in some shots of his 1966 film along with its haunting, unforgettable soundtrack. The difference between their radiant youth and aged looks is both striking and strangely comforting. And he enhances this hesitant, renewed relationship with their wise comments on life, love, music and cinema, along with cheeky dream sequences that lighten the mood.
Aimée is still lovely at 88, and the tired, muddled Trintignant comes to life each time he cracks an impish smile, for he can still enchant. Here is a film to cherish.
Non-romantics and those without heart and memories, abstain.
(Showing only at the Cinelux – so do run to it!)
POLICE ** (vo French)
Anne Fontaine has long been an important name in France’s cinema hierarchy, with works that sometimes titillate and often raise pertinent issues, such as her first big success in 1997, dealing with marital games in “Nettoyage à sec”; a fashion icon in “Coco before Chanel”; an amusing literary comparison in “Gemma Bovary”; and religious deviations in “Les Innocentes”.
In her latest, she delves into the underbelly of the police profession, showing how it can be a strain on the individuals’ lives. Especially in one assignment when three officers, including Omar Sy and the lovely Virginia Efira, have to accompany an asylum seeker from Tajikistan (played by the Iranian actor Payman Moaadi) to the airport to be returned to his country. The dilemma is that he will meet torture or death on his return, and their human instincts play against their duty as police officers.
The premise is noble, the acting is fine, but the writing and direction lack momentum and, at times, logic. Rare for a Fontaine film, it unfortunately left me underwhelmed and unsatisfied.
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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.