13 August 2021.
FRENCH EXIT *
I was really looking forward to this film. Michelle Pfeiffer in Paris – two beauties meeting – how fitting. Well, it doesn’t quite work out that way. Pfeiffer is still lovely and a fine, matured actress, and this looks like an Oscar-winning role for her. In fact she’s the only positive gleam in this dull film which goes nowhere. About an elegant, spoiled widow with a strangely devoted son, it is her last hurrah before her dwindled inheritance runs out, which she has decided to spend in Paris. She does not only spread out the cash, throwing it on foolish nothings, but is literally giving it away. Does she not even think of her son’s share when she’s gone? For she’s planning to go when the money has finally vanished.
Though she is a loner, except for the son (Lucas Hedges) who is at her beck and call, she ends up somehow gathering a curious coterie of characters around her. They’re supposed to be amusing but they’re not, just like the film. There are bits of Paris, bits of encounters, no real thought to the whys and wherefores of the plot. It just meanders and leaves one feeling quite empty and cheated. Pity, it could have been good with a tighter script and better direction.
MA FABULEUSE WANDA ***1/2 (vo German)
In contrast, there is this deep and delightful film about a well-to-do family in a lovely home on the lake of Zurich. The industrialist patriarch has had a stroke and is being very well taken care of by a Polish nurse named Wanda. She is kind, professional and takes care of his every need. Indeed every need. Not because she is a loose woman, but because she has small children and proud parents to support back home. There is the lazy son of the family who also has a crush on Wanda, a nervous and very jealous sister with marriage problems, and Wanda’s family who somehow just trickle in. And that gift cow.
This beautifully crafted film is basically about how class differences can be shaken when the emotional and human elements come to the fore. Marthe Keller is as always brilliant as the hurt, bewildered wife of the industrialist, while the whole cast plays this strange and quirky tale to the hilt. By Bettina Oberli, this is fine filmmaking, both thoughtful and entertaining.
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.