Saturday, April 11, 2009

La Belle Personne (The Beautiful Person)

Imagine a movie based on one of the first European novels, and a classic of its era (circa 1678) set a century earlier in the royal court of Henry II of France where nearly every character –except the heroine- is a historic figure. Imagine Mademoiselle de Chartes is a sheltered heiress whose mother brought her to court to find a husband and she finally marries the Prince de Clèves; but after her marriage she meets the dashing Duc de Nemours and she falls in love with him but never consummate their love. For thrills imagine a letter that’s written by the Princess uncle, but everyone thinks came from Nemours to the Princess. If you can imagine everything, you will be thinking about a novel by Madame de La Fayette called La Princesse de Clèves.

Now imagine all of the above set in current time and in a French high school with only beautiful actors and you will be imagining this movie by Christophe Honoré that is a very loose adaptation of a court drama taken into high school drama.

The adaptation worked marvels for me mainly because actors’ performances that with expressions transmitted all kind of emotions, especially great Louis Garrel that plays the Italian teacher Nemours and Léa Seydoux that plays Junie (or the Princess in the novel).

With the peculiar Christophe Honoré narrative style (he also co wrote the script), extraordinary cinematography that makes Paris look so beautiful even when he used a grayish palette, fantastic camera moves and framing, and a song or two (that really seem leftovers from Les chansons d'amour) the film becomes an interesting visual voyage into teen behavior of another era, but that’s not a bad thing as the story with the superb actors’ performances will totally grab your attention.

This is the third film in a trilogy that Honoré started with Dans Paris, followed with Les Chansons d’amour and finished with La Belle Personne. All films are about being young, love and Paris. This is what he says: “Pour moi, ces trois films, réalisés dans une même économie de moyens, un même geste, une même attention au présent et une même rapidité d'exécution, forment une trilogie, un portrait en trois volets de la jeunesse, de l'amour et de Paris."

The film was supposed to be a made for TV movie but finally was released to theaters after being aired on French TV. The movie was honored with three nominations at the 2009 César and Léa Seydoux had a nomination for Best Female Newcomer at the 2008 Prix Lumières and please browse the blog for more honors.

I enjoyed the movie as an entertaining and good French Cinema with really great looking actors in the screen and as such I do recommend it. By the way as in many Honoré films there is a gay interest plot that here is quite dramatic.


No comments yet