Saturday, April 25, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #6 - The French Part 1

France has the largest presence in Cannes Official Selection this year and French directors also are have the highest number with 5 of the19 films directed by French directors. Already talked about Jacques Audiard and now in Part 1 will review the only two female directors in the competition Maïwenn and Valérie Donzelli later in Part 2 will talk about Stéphane Brizé and Guillaume Nicloux.

Most interesting is realizing that both female directors have a successful career as actresses both before becoming directors as while doing their films.  As a matter of fact, both tend to direct and perform but indeed in their current films, they only direct. As a reference have to mention that all said for Maïwenn and Valérie Donzelli also applies to another French female director in the Official Selection, Emmanuelle Bercot and the film that opens the festival, La tête haute (Standing Tall).  What a coincidence, isn't?


Maïwenn was born on April 17, 1976 in Les Lilas, Seine-Saint-Denis, France as Maïwenn Le Besco. She has a very colorful personal life that is well-documented in the net, from her mother wanting her to become a star, to her marriage to Luc Besson when she was 16-years-old, her living in Berverly Hills, returning to France and her famous partners. If you are interested in her personal life, just browse the net to learn the details.

Have seen few of her films as an actress but for me is more interesting when she directs. She goes to international cinema stratosphere with her Cannes In Competition Polisse that won the Jury Prize; but I met her with previous film, 2009 Le Bal des Actrices. Mon Roi is her fourth film and the second that opens In Competition at Cannes.

What do I expect from Mon Roi? There is almost no information about film but seems will not have the style of Polisse; perhaps the narrative style could be more like le Bal des Actrices. Still film is absolutely must be seen for me as I watch everything with Louis Garrel and Maïwenn's sister, Isild Le Besco plus watching Vincent Cassel performances are always a cinematic event.  Will not guess Cannes possibilities to win an award but believe that leads could have good chances of being front-runners for Best Actress and Best Actor awards.

Basic info about Mon Roi
Director: Maïwenn
Scriptwriter: Maïwenn and Etienne Comar
Language: French
Runtime: 130 mins
Production countries: France
Production Companies: Les Productions du Trésor (Alain Attal), Studio Canal, Canal +, France 2 Cinéma
Distribution: Studio Canal for International Sales, Film Europe Media Company, Cinéart (Belgium)

Cast: Louis Garrel, Vincent Cassel, Emmanuelle Bercot, Isild Le Besco

Plot Summary
The story, told over several years, of a complicated and destructive romance between a couple with a child.

Synopsis in French
Tony est admise dans un centre de rééducation après une grave chute de ski. Dépendante du personnel médical et des antidouleurs, elle prend le temps de se remémorer l’histoire tumultueuse qu’elle a vécue avec Georgio. Pourquoi se sont-ils aimés ? Qui est réellement l’homme qu’elle a adoré? Comment a-t-elle pu se soumettre à cette passion étouffante et destructrice ? Pour Tony c’est une difficile reconstruction qui commence désormais, un travail corporel qui lui permettra peut-être de définitivement se libérer …

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Valérie Donzelli

Like her brief bio at la Quinzaine, so here it is: Valérie Donzelli was born in the Vosges Mountains, but is not a Vosgian. She studied architecture, but is not an architect. Her first cinematic experience dates from Sandrine Veysset’s film Martha... Martha, in which she played the title role and brought her to Cannes for the first time as film was in the Directors' Fortnight. Il fait beau dans la plus belle ville du monde is her first short as director, a film that was screened at 2008 Cannes Directors' Fortnight. Well to keep the format here is her info, she was born in March 2, 1973 in Épinal, Vosges, France and studied architecture.

Haven't seen much of her performances but the last one was playing the role of Renée in Bertrand Bonello's Saint Laurent; still she has worked with directors like Guillaume Nicloux, Agnès Varda, Anne Fontaine and more. Her first feature film La reine des pommes (Queen of Hearts) opened in competition for a Golden Leopard in 2009 Locarno fest but is her second film La guerre est déclarée (Declaration of War) the one that propels her to international fame after being the opening film of 2011 Cannes La Semaine de la Critique. Her third film 2012 Main dans la main opens in Rome fest and her fourth 2013 Que d'Amour! opens in Locarno fest.  Indeed, she has been around the festival circuit with her films.

Her fifth film Marguerite et Julien takes her back to Cannes as a director and this time she is for the first time In Competition for the Palme d'Or. Seems she has been in Cannes previously as an actress, but as a director is her third time. Her work has been compared to the films of François Truffaut so is kind of interesting that in the '70s Truffaut was supposed to do the film version with a script by Jean Gruault but in the end the project was abandoned. It is in 2011 that Capricci editions publishes the original script by Gruault and when Donizelli becomes interested in the doing the film but with her own version of the screenplay.

What do I expect from Marguerite et Julien? I hope film has similar intensity to the high intensity of Declaration of War. Lately there has been several films that touch the incest theme, so bet that in a period drama, theme will be shown in a less-sensationalist manner and more as a dramatic situation that in this case has a tragic ending. I really enjoy Anaïs Demoustier performances but wonder if in this film she can be a contender for Best Actress. Will not guess if film has possibilities for top award but this year's eclectic jury could surprise with unexpected results.

Basic info about Marguerite et Julien
Director: Valérie Donzelli
Scriptwriters: Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm
Language: French
Runtime: 110 mins
Production countries: France and Belgium
Production Companies: Rectangle Productions (Edouard Weil and Alice Girard), Scope Pictures
Distribution: Wild Bunch, Orange Studio,

Cast: Anaïs Demoustier, Jérémie Elkaïm, Geraldine Chaplin, Frédéric Pierrot

Plot Summary
The story revolves around Julien and Marguerite de Ravalet, the son and daughter of the Lord of Tourlaville, who have had great affection for one another since they were children. But as they grow up, their tender love turns into an all-consuming passion. Their affair completely outrages society, which then hunts them down. Unable to fight against their feelings for each other, they are forced to run away...

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