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Film Critics: Today, December 13, winners from Dallas ForthWorthFCA, ChicagoFCA and Film Comment Magazine. Nominations from HoustonFCS, PhoenixCC. PhoenixFCS.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

La Faute à Fidel! (Blame it on Fidel!)


Seems like lately I have been having an “eye” for similar movies as this Julie Gavras (yes, she’s Costa Gavras daughter) debut film is also set in 1970-71, has a little politics and is another most unusual coming-of-age. But this time is set in Paris and is the story of a prim and proper 9-year-old girl that sees her comfortable bourgeois life change almost from one day to the other. This is a truly fascinating film that travels many relevant and important issues from Catholicism, Greek mythology, Oriental philosophy, Communism, Franco’s Spain, Allende’s Chile, Cuban exiles and France women’s rights to abortion; all seen from the perspective of the precocious girl at an age where every child captures, believes and repeats almost everything he’s told.

Based on the Domitilla Calamai novel Tutta Colpa di Fidel this unbelievable smart movie tells about Anna de la Mesa (Nina Kervel-Bey) life dramatically changing when his father smuggles his sister from Spain only to make him feel guilty of leaving Spain years ago and escape to France to work and live a comfortable life. He decides to redeem himself by working for the ones suffering in the world, only to end as the French liaison to Chilean activists in Paris. Her mother supports her husband decision and goes her own transformation; and all the family starts their downsizing by moving to a smaller apartment where Anna starts what I call her true education and tries to adapt to change.

But actually I believe that the story is a very witty analysis of stereotyping, misinformation, the potential double standards of ideologies and the potential deceptive hopes of idealism. So, can you imagine all this done by a little girl? Well, if you can then you’re imagining this movie. Definitively Julie Gavras inherited her father wisdom with very serious matters and perhaps excelled him with her storytelling abilities.

You have to see the movie to really understand how so many things can fit in a story, how a little girl can do it and how a director can succeed in telling quite complex matters in a very simple, entertaining, instantly grabbing and well-done movie. This is an outstanding accomplishment for a first time director, especially when she had to work with children and all the DVD extras tell you about how difficult is to work with children. I strongly suggest to check the deleted scenes as there is one scene that was so crucial to the story and unfortunately was deleted.

Excellent performance by first time acting Nina Kervel-Bey, in the beginning you will somehow dislike her proper and very bourgeois attitude and still dislike her questioning and reasoning, but eventually you will totally fall for her character as the actor makes you believe absolutely everything she does. Bravo! Especially because she’s a child actor.

The movie as a movie has great tech specs with none being outstanding as this is a movie about performances and a sharp, smart and perhaps cerebral story told with impeccable direction. Adults have good performances and we see here Julie Depardieu as Marie, the mother, and Stefano Accorsi as Fernando, the father; but the children are the ones that carry and totally steal the movie.

The movie was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and won the 2006 Michel d’Ornano Award for a Promising First Film.

I believe that this French and Italy production is apt to all adult audiences as the movie has a fluent narrative that will easily engage viewers, but perhaps at least you have to like European movies.

As I mentioned before, I have a hard time watching movies with children, but lately I have been seeing movies with excellent child actors’ performances from countries like Brazil, Iran and now France/Italy that definitively are changing my perceptions about younger people performances. This is very good.

I really enjoyed this movie that made laugh, made me think, and made me remember; but most important, it did it in a very entertaining way. I strongly recommend this movie by this woman director that seems like will have a very promising future.

Big Enjoy!!!

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