Film Review: “My Donkey, My Lover and I”


Laure Calamy and Patrick the donkey steal the show in Caroline Vignal’s funny and original comedy, a work awarded the Cannes Official Selection Label and which is soon to hit cinemas in France

“It this your donkey? Is he giving you a hard time? It’s the same for everyone, you have to learn to get along.” When, on a romantic whim, the protagonist of Caroline Vignal’s My Donkey, My Lover and I – awarded the 73rd Cannes Film Festival’s Official Selection Label and distributed in French cinemas by Diaphana from 16 September – decides to embark on a trek for which she is in no way prepared, she has no idea that she’s simultaneously triggering an epic countdown which will lead to her own self-discovery. It’s an initiatory journey set to the tune of a romantic comedy and against vast, magnificent landscapes, but it’s also a hilarious “buddy movie” which unites a woman and a donkey, paints a moving portrait and magnifies the virtues of stripping back to the essentials and getting back to nature (without concealing the complications such a process involves).

“Et je sens la fièvre qui me mord”. Just like in Véronique Sanson’s song Amoureuse, which teacher Antoinette (Laure Calamy) performs, ablaze, before an audience of disconcerted parents at the school’s end of year celebration, our protagonist is in full emotional and sensual bloom, owing to her secret affair with Vladimir (Benjamin Lavernhe), the father of one of her Year 5 students. But their plans for a week of freedom in Paris are brutally upended: Vladimir, his wife (Olivia Côte) and their daughter have changed plans and are now trotting off into the Cévennes region to embark on a hike with a donkey. But never mind! Impulsive Antoinette sets off on their trail (without telling anyone) and on the path walked and described in 1879 by Scottish writer Robert-Louis Stevenson in Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes… On the itinerary are six stages of roughly twenty kilometres a day, with nightly stopovers scheduled in gites with all their communal meals and shared dorms.

Suffice to say, Antoinette causes an immediate stir among the seasoned hikers, especially after swiftly confessing the sentimental reason behind her trip. Her fame grows as the days pass and as the exhausting (but also cruelly funny) hardships mount up behind her, starting with the need to make her partner – the donkey, Patrick – advance. But what will happen if Antoinette’s wish to cross paths with Vladimir (encumbered by his young family) actually comes true?

Carried by the sensational Laure Calamy, who is wonderful in her delivery of a comic-come-pathetic performance whilst also offering up a moving display of bravery in adversity, the film paints a very beautiful portrait of a woman through the mirror of the unexpected bond she slowly forges with Patrick; one which starts off strained given the animal’s contrary nature, but which sees them gradually grow accustomed to one another (with Antoinette telling him a bit about her life, notably her “gift for falling in love with the worst possible guy, at the worst possible time, in the worst possible place”). Together they form a duo which raises a lot of laughs, gracing a storyline which proceeds at the soothing pace of the walk and of the unexpected encounters they experience amidst nigh-on desert-like, breath-taking panoramas. It’s an ideal setting for re-centring oneself and for a feature film as charming as this one.

Source: Review: My Donkey, My Lover and I

‘Cuties’ review: Despite Netflix bungling, it’s worth seeing

Film Cuties

Maïmouna Doucouré’s prize-winning directorial debut is a smart, empathetic coming-of-age drama.

Early on in “Cuties,” Amy (Fathia Youssouf), an 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant living in Paris, hides under a bed and eavesdrops while her mother, Mariam (Maïmouna Gueye), makes a few difficult phone calls. Her husband has decided to marry a second wife, she tells her friends; yes, isn’t that wonderful news? Amy, from her partially obscured vantage, can’t see her mom’s tears, though she can hear the barely disguised anguish in her voice. At the same time, she has perhaps never seen Mariam more clearly, a woman whose long-suffering heart and tough exterior are finally on the verge of breaking. Continue reading “‘Cuties’ review: Despite Netflix bungling, it’s worth seeing”

Marion Cotillard: It was a ‘relief’ being in lockdown

The ‘Inception’ actress really enjoyed staying home during the coronavirus pandemic as she felt ”really connected to the rest of the world”.

She said: ”I found this period very interesting. For everybody to be locked down, and for time to stop, I found something of a relief. I felt really connected to the rest of the world, and I think many human beings felt that way. No FOMO [fear of missing out] any more! But I also had a lot of thoughts about the world, about what’s going on socially and environmentally.”

And the 44-year-old actress recently visited Antarctica and admits she was ”disturbed” to find out there were less penguins and more plastic there.

She added: ”It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life. It’s almost untouched; its energy is really fed by the fact that you can’t buy anything, you can’t sell anything. But we saw a decreasing population of penguins, and plastics in a place where no man goes, so that was very disturbing. The whole trip, from pole to pole, was to try to open the public’s eyes to what could happen if we don’t set rules for these places.”

Meanwhile, Marion also opened up about her childhood, admitting she was ”just fascinated by her parents’ life” as they were both actors too.

She told Harper’s Bazaar magazine: ”I was just fascinated by my parents’ life. There was a lot of energy in the house, and then I started to have my own experience of acting. Right away I felt it was something that was really strong in me. The first time was in a summer camp. I did this play at the end, and I felt something that shook me. I was playing an old housekeeper and the reaction of the audience, people laughing, and then coming up to me afterwards … That was the first time I felt it would be my life.”

Source: Marion Cotillard | Marion Cotillard: It was a ‘relief’ being in lockdown | Contactmusic.com

Trailer: Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch”

Directed by Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city.

It stars Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson.

Netflix apologises for ‘sexualising’ young girls in French film promo

Video streaming giant Netflix has apologised after its promotional material for a French film sparked accusations that it was sexualising young girls.

The award-winning Cuties (Mignonnes in its French release) follows 11-year-old black girl Amy as she grows up in a working-class area of Paris, defies her family and becomes aware of her burgeoning sexuality.

The poster promoting the film in France shows four brightly dressed girls throwing confetti as they walk up a street.Image

However, in the United States and internationally Netflix chose an image showing the four young stars posing in tight costumes baring their legs and midriffs.

“We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance,” Netflix said on Twitter late Thursday.

“We’ve now updated the pictures and description.” Continue reading “Netflix apologises for ‘sexualising’ young girls in French film promo”