19 April 2019.
This is indeed an international week – there’s not a single English-language film in my reviews. But we’re in Geneva, and lucky to be so diversified!
ASH IS THE PUREST WHITE (LES ETERNELS) ***1/2 (vo Chinese)
One could call this a love story. A love story à la Chinoise, but it’s much larger than that. This is also an intriguing panorama of life in China in the 21st century, against the backdrop of a complicated romance.
With excellent acting and a captivating script, director Jia Zhangke gives us a birds’ eye view of lives in the backwaters of that vast country, as we follow a young, independent woman who loves a smalltime gang leader, for whom she spends five years of her life in prison. What she finds when she comes out is for you to discover, as she seeks the love she thought unending.
Zhao Tao, the director’s wife and muse, is fascinating as the steadfast lover, and the attractive Liao Fan plays well a man who goes through a crippling transformation. Mesmerizing. (Showing at the Grutli cinemas)
BLANCHE COMME NEIGE *** (vo French)
An Anne Fontaine film is always an event. Like a new François Ozon film, for they both deal in varied but consistently quality works.
This time Fontaine offers us an amusing fairytale-like thriller about a delectable young thing who escapes to a small French hamlet and becomes a sort of Snow White to seven men who are simply fascinated by her. Amidst all these suitors, she blossoms into an innocent entranced by all things carnal and liberating. The series of men, including Charles Berling and Benoît Poelvoorde, are a wacky bunch. And of course we must have the conspiring jealous witch, perfectly played by the perennial Isabelle Huppert. There’s even a shiny, red apple. Great fun, if you suspend disbelief.
SYNONYME **1/2 (vo French and Hebrew)
This Israeli film won the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival. One has to wonder what the Jury headed by Juliette Binoche was high on… It’s a film about a brash, young Israeli man who comes to France, seeking to completely deny his background and nationality, and become French.
Interesting premise, but there is no deep analysis or raison d’être in this tale. Nothing universal or revealing here, except for some nudity. The Golden Bear, really?
JUST A GIGOLO – (vo French)
A below-the-belt ‘comedy’ about a lowlife gigolo trying to get back into the trade.
You really don’t need to pay with your time and money for such dumb, vulgar ‘entertainment’. If the protagonist were at least attractive…
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.