NY Rendez-Vous with French Cinema highlights

A look ahead at the best of the fest.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Catherine Deneuve and Guillaume Canet in André Téchiné's In the Name of My Daughter (L’Homme Qu’on Aimait Trop), also starring Adèle Haenel
Catherine Deneuve and Guillaume Canet in André Téchiné's In the Name of My Daughter (L’Homme Qu’on Aimait Trop), also starring Adèle Haenel

This year's Rendez-Vous with French Cinema opens with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni and Benoît Poelvoorde in Benoît Jacquot's 3 Hearts (3 Coeurs). Quentin Dupieux's Reality (Réalité) starring Alain Chabat, featuring Philip Glass’s Music With Changing Parts closes the festival.

There are first-rate performances from Mathieu Kassovitz and Céline Sallette (who also stars with Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche and Benoît Magimel in Cédric Jimenez' The Connection (La French)) in Cédric Kahn's Wild Life (Vie Sauvage), Guillaume Canet in Cédric Anger's Next Time I’ll Aim For The Heart (La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai Le Coeur), Olivier Gourmet and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi in Stéphane Demoustier's 40-Love (Terre Battue), Adèle Haenel with Kévin Azaïs in Thomas Cailley's Love At First Fight (Les Combattants) and Christophe Honoré's contemporary gods in Métamorphoses.

The uniFrance and Film Society of Lincoln Center's 20th anniversary celebration of French film in New York, runs from March 6 - 15. Screenings and filmmaker appearances will take place at the Walter Reade Theater (WRT), IFC Center (IFC), BAMcinématek (BAM) with 3 Hearts at Alice Tully Hall.

Métamorphoses

Erwan Larcher and Vimala Pons in Christophe Honoré's Métamorphoses
Erwan Larcher and Vimala Pons in Christophe Honoré's Métamorphoses

Christophe Honoré is not afraid of magic and he has fun with grand gestures. Métamorphoses at heart is a defense of myths in all their offensive allure. He shows it all in a tight package that merges the supernatural with the substance. The beauty of the night, water, nature, human bodies desirable in many shapes and formations, lure us into the lands of romantic as well as pagan constellations, all perfectly at ease with suburban landscapes of today. Bearded Orphée (George Babluani), dressed in white, collects his followers and Venus (Keti Bicolli) gifts her three golden apples. Atalante (Vimala Pons) and Hippomène (Erwan Larcher) jump and leap on walls of hay in one of the most beautiful race sequences on film. Their competition resembles Pina Bausch's Tanztheater and works as a reminder to always say thank you if you don't want to be turned into a lion.

North American Premiere Sunday, March 8, 9:15pm – WRT (Q&A with Christophe Honoré and producer Philippe Martin) Monday, March 9, 2:00pm – WRT Monday, March 9, 8:00pm – BAM (Q&A with Christophe Honoré and producer Philippe Martin) Tuesday, March 10, 7:00pm – IFC (Q&A with Christophe Honoré)

Wild Life (Vie Sauvage)

Mathieu Kassovitz in Cédric Kahn's Wild Life
Mathieu Kassovitz in Cédric Kahn's Wild Life

Cédric Kahn's disquieting Wild Life (Vie sauvage) makes us feel the cold and the tension and the power of an idea within the first minute of its relentless, precise, nonjudgmental gaze on a torn apart family. Paco (Mathieu Kassovitz) and Nora (Céline Sallette) left society behind and chose the "wild life" with their three sons, living in a caravan in the countryside with animals, and no electricity or running water. Paco, who packed up his horse and capuchin monkey, suggestive of Pippi Longstocking's friends, is determined to save his family from a capitalist society he abhors. Kassovitz fills the unflagging father with so much wild conviction that we can almost forgive the torture he inflicts. The physical and emotional endurance it takes is never romanticized as we are challenged to identify with their battles.

North American Premiere Saturday, March 7, 7:30pm – IFC (Q&A with Cédric Kahn, Céline Sallette and producer Kristina Larsen) Sunday, March 8, 6:30pm – WRT (Q&A with Cédric Kahn) Sunday, March 8, 9:00pm – BAM (Q&A with Cédric Kahn and Céline Sallette)

Love At First Fight (Les Combattants)

Kévin Azaïs and Adèle Haenel in Thomas Cailley's Love At First Fight (Les Combattants)
Kévin Azaïs and Adèle Haenel in Thomas Cailley's Love At First Fight (Les Combattants)

Thomas Cailley keeps technology out of the picture In Love at First Fight (Les Combattants) for the most part. He shows the toll it has taken on the way people interact with each other face to face. Characters are hungry to find enjoyment by giving up the every day, ordinary pleasures shoved at them by a society with pre-packaged dreams that hold no allure. Respite in nature, more than ever, comes across as a mirage preceding an apocalypse that has begun. The present in the wild already belongs to the past. As a swan song of the forest, images of the couple in the woods leave room for a wealth of associations. A Strand Releasing release.

Thursday, March 12, 6:45pm – WRT (Q&A with Thomas Cailley - composers Hit and Run) Thursday, March 12, 10:20pm – IFC (Q&A with Thomas Cailley - composers Hit and Run) Sunday, March 15, 2:00pm – WRT

Next Time I’ll Aim For The Heart (La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai Le Coeur)

Guillaume Canet in Cédric Anger's Next Time I’ll Aim For The Heart (La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai Le Coeur)
Guillaume Canet in Cédric Anger's Next Time I’ll Aim For The Heart (La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai Le Coeur)

Cédric Anger returned to the Seventies and to real-life French murder cases with two of his latest movies. In one as screenwriter for André Téchiné's casino family thriller In The Name Of My Daughter (L’Homme qu’on aimait trop) and directing the other, Next Time I’ll Aim For The Heart (La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai Le Coeur). In both, Guillaume Canet is the male lead and in both, possibly aided by the costumes he is wearing and the period haircuts, he looks strikingly like François Truffaut, which makes for an interesting obstacle to overcome in performance. And overcome it he does.

Tuesday, March 10, 6:45pm –WRT (Q&A with Cédric Anger and Guillaume Canet) Tuesday, March 10, 8:30pm – BAM (Q&A with Cédric Anger and Guillaume Canet) Wednesday, March 11, 4:15pm – WRT Wednesday, March 11, 9:00pm – IFC (Q&A with Cédric Anger and Guillaume Canet)

40-Love (Terre Battue)

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Olivier Gourmet in Stéphane Demoustier's 40-Love (Terre Battue)
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Olivier Gourmet in Stéphane Demoustier's 40-Love (Terre Battue)

Stéphane Demoustier directs a tableau of competition and passion with a keen eye for the universal in the very specific mundane. Managers in mass retail who dream of opening a store selling cheap women's shoes in a suburban shopping mall are rarely protagonists on the screen. In 40-Love (Terre Battue) Olivier Gourmet gives a mindful portrayal of a very ordinary man named Jérôme Sauvage at a crossroads. He loses his job, his 11-year-old son Ugo (Charles Mérienne) could be a tennis prodigy and his wife Laura (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) could leave both of them forever for another man. The direction the action takes is superbly unpredictable and surprising and yet completely in line with the characters. Gourmet, a regular in the films of the Dardennes who are also co-producers here, is phenomenal as the shopping center aficionado who makes us understand a little more why the world is in the state it is in today.

Thursday, March 12, 6:00pm – IFC (Q&A with Stéphane Demoustier) Friday, March 13, 6:45pm – WRT (Q&A with Stéphane Demoustier

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