18 November 2022.
RESTE UN PEU ***1/2 (vo French)
Gad Elmaleh is a popular French comedian and actor who with this second film as director has created quite a furore, even before its release. And the reason is that this tender comedy involving his family is actually about his wanting to convert from his Jewish faith to Catholicism. Now that sounds like something Woody Allen would concoct, having in fact made allusions to it in some of his writings and films.
But this one is about Gad, who has just come back to France after a few years spent in America. He arrives at his parents’ home and is persuaded by them to stay in his old room though he had intended to go to a hotel. This intimate docu/fiction is unique as Gad uses his own parents, Regine and David Elmaleh and his sister Judith in their actual roles, as well as some of his family and friends, such as actor Roschdy Zem. At times he has even let them improvise, using their own words and gestures, making the story that much more real and moving, as they are all such characters. Obviously, his decision creates a huge turmoil in the family, but he manages to handle it here with great delicacy and that wry Jewish humor. And his parents are quite brilliant in the interpretation of their pain and bewilderment, his mother revealing her feelings through her paintings.
Certainly such a spiritual theme and personal revelation is a difficult one to convey well, but Elmaleh treats it with both respect and lightness, making this a moving experience. He pulls the audience into the difficult dilemma of this conversion that feels like a betrayal of his very roots, while showing how as a child in Morocco he was always fascinated by the statue of the Virgin Mary and all the goodness that she represented.
The title actually defines the film quite perfectly, for all parents wish for their offspring who come back home to ‘stay for a bit’, in more ways than one…
UNE COMEDIE ROMANTIQUE ** (vo French)
Neither quite a comedy, nor terribly romantic, this film with Alex Lutz and Golshifteh Farahani is about a dreamer of a loser who comes back after some years to his old love, as he has nowhere to stay in Paris. Bad start, that. And it’s a long climb to get back into her good graces.
The film is pleasant, it has the lovely international Iranian actress Golshifteh who is everywhere these days, in not one of her best performances (as in “The Patience Stone”, “Body of Lies” or “Arab Blues”), due to a meandering scenario.
It’s see-able, if you have nothing better to do….
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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.
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