Tag Archives: CinéFranco Film Festival

Saint Amour

Gerard Depardieu and Benoit Poelvoorde play a father and son, respectively, attending a livestock show.  Luckily for Poelvoorde, the fair also features a wine exhibition and he makes it his mission to sample everything.  Since there are a few days before the main event (the cattle competition), Depardieu suggests they widen the scope of the wine tour.   Poelvoode is all for it so the two hit the road with the help of cabbie Vincent Lacoste.

Saint Amour had me at “French wine tour”.  If anyone ever wants to organize a French road trip, count me in.  Jay will definitely come too.  There’s a joyous feeling as the characters move to the countryside and get their drink on.  The experience feels like it should, and as a viewer I wished I was more actively involved in the adventure.

Even Vincent Lacoste, who I instantly recognized as the title character in Lolo (likely the most detestable character I saw on screen in 2015), is entertaining as the cabbie/third wheel.  The beating heart of the movie, though, is the interplay between Depardieu and Poelvoorde.  They are both funny and surprisingly sweet as they try (and often fail) to reconnect over bottle after bottle of what I am sure was excellent wine.  Neither of them has a lot to say to the other, but as the story progresses we see it’s not for lack of trying.

Then the film swerves in the last ten minutes, leaving us with an ending I did not see coming, not even a little bit.  It’s not the worst ending but it’s quite bizarre, mainly because it didn’t fit with my feel for the father and son duo and left me feeling a bit flat.  On the other hand, the swerve was believable for Lacoste’s character but that could be my Lolo hatred resurfacing.  Me, I would rather have finished the wine tour.

Even with the bumpy landing, Saint Amour is an entertaining ride that goes down smooth.  Now to start dropping hints to Jay about a real-life tour of France’s wine regions, sans compromis.

Made In France

It starts out reasonably enough: we hear a lecture against pornography. But the words are angry, vehement, and even if we agree with the content, you can’t help but worry about the tone. Then it continues: the Internet is evil too. And so is “fraternization” – males and females hanging out together. Merely looking at each other. It’s all decadence that leads to adultery, and adultery is worse than murder because murder is permitted under certain circumstances, but adultery, never. Which is why women should be made to stay in the home.

This is of course rhetoric coming from a Muslim imam in an underground mosque in Paris. The worshippers gathered to hear him are mzfq1g0XnDg9STDVZPT219LTQh6.jpgdiverse. One, Sam (Malik Zidi), or “red beard” as they call him, is an honestly devout Muslim but also an undercover journalist hoping to get a juicy story on jihadism. His Muslim buddies are all young guys like him from a range of backgrounds, easily mistaken for a group of soccer-loving 20 somethings. But one of the gang, Hassan (Dimitri Storoge), leaves France because he’s ready to make holy war. When he comes back, he tells his friends they’re charged with forming a terrorist cell right there in Paris.

It’s scary to watch something this topical when in fact Paris has been hit several times now by terrorists. The threat is real. Al-Queda isn’t just “over there”, it can be home-grown and just as serious. That’s why this movie strikes such a nerve. As Sam says in the film, the mosque is very good at radicalizing young men. The imam have the subtle traits of cult leaders, and though the young men may originally wander in out of curiosity, they stay out of belief, and then develop fanaticism. The inherent misogyny in the system seems to be attractive to a certain kind of disenfranchised young man.

Made In France is scarier than any horror movie you’ll see this year, and for that reason I wish the film was more analytical as to what would truly encourage a regular Joe to turn extreme. As it stands, the movie’s characters are one-dimensional in terms of motivation. It’s a fairly effective thriller but not overly insightful. Shot before the attack on Charlie Hebdo, director Nicolas Boukhrief struggles to find a balance between the genre and its real life inspiration. He achieves a tense atmosphere that’s gripping and heart-pounding, and a couple of punchy, taut action sequences. Ultimately succumbing to generic twists and beats, though, Made In France doesn’t quite deliver on its socio-political promise. But it does serve as a reminder that anyone can be a terrorist, with a camera’s simple panning of a nondescript residential street that could be my neighbourhood or yours, and the clever casting of “the guy next door”, Made In France taps into our panic and forces us to confront our worst fears.

This review appeared first at Cinema Axis – check them out for more CineFranco coverage!