19 May 2023.
JEANNE DU BARRY *** (vo French)
Of course the film is in French, and Johnny Depp has no American accent as Louis XV! In fact he is convincing and touching as the grand French king of the mid-18th century who enjoyed having a series of mistresses in his spectacular Versailles palaces. But the one courtesan who became his serious love was Jeanne du Barry, played here by Maiwenn, who is also the director of this film which opened the Cannes film festival.
Maiwenn became fascinated by the woman who was du Barry from the time she saw Sofia Coppola’s film on Marie-Antoinette (who was a contemporary of du Barry’s and is featured in this film).
She has grown up in the film industry as both actress and, with this her sixth film, as director. A regular at Cannes, she won the Jury Prize there for “Polisse”, a tough, urban film completely different from this sumptuous historical and romantic look at a woman who came up from the lowest ranks of society thanks to her intelligence and her natural, erotic charms. That is what Maiwenn wanted to show in this film – the brave trajectory of a common woman who reached the highest position at the court of Versailles, yet also created a social scandal because of her humble background.
The film is an elaborate look at the pomp and circumstance of the court, and at the love and intimacy that grew between du Barry and the king. We’re witness to the rituals of life at Versailles – the excesses, the jealousies and the many characters surrounding Louis XV, all vying for his favours and attention. But there is also the lasting tenderness between the two. This is an impressive film that comes from the heart (and talents) of two women – du Barry’s and Maiwenn’s.
UMAMI * (vo French, Japanese)
This is really not a very good nor convincing film, despite Gérard Depardieu’s imposing presence (both physical and intellectual). It’s an ineffectual story of a renowned French chef – played by Depardieu – who for some reason goes off to Japan to find a colleague from his early days. Despite the chef’s great success, he has a terrible family life, drinks like a fish, and has huge health problems, somewhat like Depardieu himself, who has also owned restaurants.
The film has already evaporated in my mind – useless films tend to do that. But I do remember I was let down by its predictable scenario which had an unrealistic happy end, where we finally got a smile out of the sour, emaciated Sandrine Bonnaire who plays his disagreeable daughter.
FAST AND FURIOUS X
I have not seen it, but it’s probably the usual triple-testosterone shot for all the action fans who are avid followers of this car-crazy franchise which is in its 11th episode.
Vin Diesel is still hanging in there, as are a slew of top action stars such as Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Jason Momoa and even Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren and Rita Moreno, to draw in more crowds.
NEZOUH ** (vo Arab)
This tale is about how it feels for a normal, middle-class family to be in the middle of the never-ending war that is the tragic Syrian conflict which by now has lasted 12 years.
A coming-of-age story in the midst of bombs, it concentrates on a young girl, her mother, and a too-caring, macho father who does not want to leave his bombed-out home as he has a horror of becoming a refugee. The word refugee is abhorrent to him, understandably, for there are some 85 million of them around the world.
Unfortunately the film loses its impact halfway through because of a weak script with at times misplaced and exaggerated situations. But the message is nevertheless important.
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.