10 March 2023.
WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? ***
A good romantic comedy is a rare thing these days, so this one is a gift that you should not let slip by. The title actually says it all, for this film is about diverging views on finding lasting love.
With the multi award-winning director Shekhar Kapur, of such varied works as the historical “Elizabeth” (1998) and “Elizabeth:The Golden Age” (2007), plus his many Bollywood-type films, this cross-culture movie is a both a delight and a clever study of love and marriage within different traditions.
In the middle of London, an English mother (Emma Thompson) and her daughter Zoe (the always charming Lily James) have been longtime neighbours with a traditional Pakistani family whose son Kazim (a dishy Shazad Latif) is now a doctor, looking to find a wife.
Zoe, who is a documentary filmmaker, is amazed when she learns that her childhood friend Kazim is actually willing, in this day and age, to let his parents find a suitable bride for him. He tells her that’s the way it’s always worked in their tradition. The fun and turmoil begin when he agrees to let her make a documentary of the search, courtship and eventual wedding. In the meantime, we’re also witness to Zoe’s modern dating patterns, and her own mother’s pushy suggestions for a suitable mate. For once, the grand Emma Thompson goes overboard in her portrayal of the too concerned mother, or maybe her character is just over-written (by screenwriter Jemima Khan).
Anyway, we know where all this is going, but the journey is super fun, especially the trip to Pakistan for the elaborate wedding ceremony. The tumultuous amusement and final gratification have shades of classic English romcoms such as “Bridget Jones” and “Four Weddings…” but with the colourful, exotic touch of the Orient. It’s a shot in the arm!
THE WHALE ***1/2
Now this film is the exact opposite of the one above. It is morose, tragic and at times disgusting, but it’s also beautiful in its humanity and brutal honesty. Directed by Darren Aronofsky and brilliantly written by Samuel D. Hunter, based on his own play, it takes place in a huis clos somewhat reminiscent of “The Glass Menagerie” of Tennessee Williams. Above all, it has the incredibly heartfelt and shattering performance of Brendan Fraser as the hugely obese man who cannot move without a walker, and never goes out of his apartment. He works from home via Zoom as a literature teacher. Besides his failing heart and trying to eat himself to death, he is obsessed by the whale in Moby Dick.
Fraser’s every move, from his sad, gentle eyes to his every gesture, conveys the very soul of this tormented man named Charlie whose ultimate wish is to reconcile with his estranged daughter. There are only six characters in this film, each one mirroring another dimension of his isolated life. There is his tough but loyal caretaker, poignantly played by Hong Chau; his cold, rebellious daughter; a young missionary; his ex-wife, and the pizza delivery man.
Fraser has already won 2 best acting awards for this portrayal, and I would also give him the Oscar for this both gentle and powerful performance.
MON CRIME (The Crime is Mine) ***1/2 (vo French)
I’ve repeated many times that an almost annual François Ozon film is something to look forward to. It’s most often an exceptional work, always different from the last, yet consistently elegant and with a raison d’être, whether it be a marital drama, a religious tragedy, a feminist satire, or a musical whodunit. Look them up, you’ll recognise them. For me, Ozon is France’s younger Woody Allen – consistent class.
His latest one, set in the 1930s, is an exhilarating spoof within a crime comedy, with the effect of a few glasses of champagne. An aspiring actress (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) has an appointment in the home of a film producer who tries to rape her. She manages to flee the scene, but later reads that he has been found murdered. She becomes a suspect, but though innocent, she and her roommate, who is a lawyer, decide to have her plead guilty.
The rest is for you to discover the whys and wherefores of this giddy pastiche which touches lightly on important themes and features the cream of the crop of French stars: Fabrice Luchini, Dany Boon, André Dussollier, and of course the constant Isabelle Huppert. You can see they had a hoot playing their characters to the hilt. Run to it!
EN PLEIN FEU *1/2 (vo French)
Such a pity for this film which starts off as a gripping tale of a father (André Dussollier) and son (Alex Lutz) caught in the midst of a massive forest fire in the south of France.
It has thriller potential and puts you in the terror and frenzy of the fire. But then the film takes a turn to the absurd and the exaggerated, and loses both momentum and any rationale. Dommage.
2 events NOT TO MISS in our busy cultural world in the Suisse Romande :
TANGO – ARGENTINA ! March 18 in Prangins
5 musicians along with 2 dancers will offer us for one night only the world of passion, sensuality and nostalgia from the Golden Age of TANGO in Argentina! Info on firstname.lastname@example.org
And the important film festival FIFDH – International Festival of films on Human Rights – From Ukraine to Iran via Somalia, the festival highlights the social, political and military conflicts that are threatening the world today. From 10 – 19 March.
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.