4 February 2022.
NOS OTAGES (UND MORGEN SEID IHR TOT) *** (vo Swiss German or French)
This meticulous reconstruction of a controversial hostage event is a harrowing experience, as it was for the real Swiss husband and wife, Daniela Widmer and David Och, taken captive by the Taliban somewhere between Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2011.
Swiss Director Michael Steiner takes us from the carefree road trip of the couple to their sudden encounter with some violent types who see the two of them as exceptional barter for a huge ransom and exchange of prisoners. The ruthlessness of their lengthy captivity, the laborious, mostly hopeless negotiations between the Swiss government and the various countries involved with the Taliban, the agony of their two families, and the typical twists and turns of the media are all well documented here in this film that tries to show their true ordeal and their miraculous escape. An eye-opener.
COSTA BRAVA, LEBANON *** (vo French, Arabic)
This portrait of a Lebanese family who have retreated to the mountains away from the misery and turmoil of downtown Beirut is a metaphor for the actual situation in that torn and corrupt country whose capital was once considered the Paris of the Middle East.
Director Mounia Akl has done a fine job of creating a charming, modern, bohemian family with a delightfully precocious child who are caught in the onslaught of machines and workers that have invaded their green space to build a garbage landfill next to the family’s idyllic property.
The very talented director and actress Nadine Labaki (of such sublime, award-winning films as “Caramel” and “Capernaum”) plays the mother, along with Saleh Bakri as the father of this besieged family.
Akl is yet another rising female talent from that region of the world known for suppression of women. Brava, and more power to them!
LES JEUNES AMANTS *** (vo French)
It needed a female director, Carine Tardieu, to envisage this intense melodrama about these “young lovers”. For the woman in this couple is 70 and the man is 45, and it is he who falls slowly but madly and desperately in love with her.
Played with great feeling and discretion by the ever-lovelier Fanny Ardent, she is a widow living contentedly on her own, with a daughter and grandchildren, while he (a moving Melvil Poupaud) is a dedicated oncologist and the loving husband of a radiant wife (Cecile de France), with two children.
They meet through a mutual friend while he is on a medical trip to Ireland. He remembers that they met briefly some years ago in the hospital where he was working. She has only a vague recollection of it.
A few more chance encounters begin to cement their attraction, especially his. She also feels the excitement of their contacts and it adds to her mature beauty. But there are the families on either side, the repercussions and the ruptures. As the wiser party, she realizes the relationship has to end, but he holds on with desperation.
I will say no more, as it is for you to see and judge for yourself, or not. It is all done with great delicacy and with the recognition that love has no age barriers and is not something one can always control.
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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.