Film Review: Baden, Baden

Due out later this November is Rachel Lang’s debut film about a dejected young Frenchwoman co-opted to help with some bathroom remodeling for her grandma. The “Baden, Baden”movie trailer looks very funny. Check out the FrenchCulture.org review below [ – Pas De Merde – ]

Like many in her generation, 26 year-old, free-spirited Ana lives a life teetering on the edge of comedy and melodrama. After a failed experience working on a film set, she returns to her hometown and decides to focus her energy on renovating the bathroom of her spunky, aging grandmother. Over the course of a scorching summer, Ana finds herself connecting and reconnecting with lovers and friends, as her (self-)improvement project gradually becomes more than she bargained for.

BADEN BADEN is a deceptively low-key feature debut from French filmmaker Rachel Lang, anchored by a slyly compelling, effortlessly confident lead performance by Salomé Richard, Lang’s alter ego and star of her two previous short films. Equally adept at narrative minimalism, psychological portraiture, and deadpan comedy, BADEN BADEN is a character study of great penetration and charm.

 

Source: BADEN BADEN | French Culture

Mademoiselle Chambon

I rewatched one of my favorite French films recently, Stéphane Brizé’s “Mademoiselle Chambon” (2009.)

“Mademoiselle Chambon” is a contemplative love story about a 50-something bricklayer named Jean (played by the magnificent Vincent Lindon) who falls in love with his young son’s teacher, Véronique Chambon (played by actress/singer Sandrine Kiberlain). Jean is married, Véronique is not. Complications ensue.

Chambon
Sandrine Kiberlain as title character

There are several moments in the film that have remained with me since first viewing: Véronique playing her violin with her back to Jean because she is shy performing;  Jean at home with his family, lovingly washing the feet of 80-year-old father. These scenes are beautifully imagined and masterfully acted.

My favorite scene is below: Véronique plays a classical piece on the stereo for Jean – La Valse Triste by Hungarian composer Franz von Vecsey. Two souls meet with no words spoken. When Jean places Véronique’s hand on his own cheek, I felt butterflies. Director Stéphane Brizé has said, “You don’t rehearse scenes like that.”

Watch the clip. Rent the movie.

Ratatouille Ain’t Nouvelle Vague

Ratatouille_wall

The French New Wave movement in cinema (Nouvelle Vague en francaise) began in the late 1950’s and the tenets of Nouvelle Vague continue to be seen in French films today.

Notable features of this movement include:

  • slow, subtle and ambiguous plots
  • strong character development
  • few happy endings, or even conclusive endings
  • an emphasis on Art over profits
belmondo
Belmondo Action Figure

While I have a genuine appreciation for Nouvelle Vague, I also appreciate a film like Pixar’s “Ratatouille” (2007), which not only sold beaucoup movie theater tickets, but also beaucoup toys. (I doubt the Jean-Paul Belmondo action figure ever made more than few francs – even with the optional toy cigarette that produces real smoke!)

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