26 May 2023.
JUST THE TWO OF US (L’AMOUR ET LES FORÊTS) ***1/2 (vo French)
There are films that grab you and hold you from the first moment – this is one of them. There is acting that is so real and natural that you feel you have always known these characters – this film has that. It starts off as a gentle romance between two loners, then turns into a passionate affair that feels like a fulfilled dream. Director and script-writer Valérie Donzelli has you now in the palm of her hand.
This dream couple gets married into a life of shared bliss. Played by the always lovely and intense Virginie Efira (“Adieu les Cons”, “Revoir Paris”, “Les Enfants des Autres”) and the deceptively normal Melvil Poupaud (“Grace à Dieu”, Les Jeunes Amants”, “Jeanne du Barry”), the film (spoiler alert) slowly turns their perfect-seeming love into an almost Hitchcockian nightmare. He becomes overly jealous and possessive, she feels a need to rebel within this forced euphoria.
There are the side characters – her twin sister, her wise mother, her caring friends, a casual interlude…the film just flows and your feelings along with it. It’s both magical and frightening, and we don’t know where it’s going. That is the wonder of a good film, and this is one fine example.
With its double name and English subtitles, it seems this film is headed for an American distribution. That would be excellent – for Americans to experience the best of French cinema.
HAWAII *1/2 (vo French)
This film is quite the opposite of the above. A group of French friends is vacationing in Hawaii when there is the (mistaken) announcement that a missile is headed towards the island of Hawaii.
That actually did happen some years ago. It is their individual reactions to this hyped-up catastrophe and the danger to their friendship that is the premise of this film. But, it’s unfortunately done with exaggeration and a shrill, heavy hand. Good concept, bad execution. Too bad, for there are a few good actors here, such as Bérénice Bejo and Manu Payet.
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.