‘Petite Maman’ review: The best family movie you’ll see in a while

Identical twin sisters play a pair of mysterious playmates in Petite Maman, an enchanting film that achieves an emotional depth that eludes many movies twice its length.

Source: ‘Petite Maman’ review: The best family movie you’ll see in a while : NPR

The writer and director Céline Sciamma makes beautiful movies about girls and young women navigating the complexities of gender and sexual identity. You can tell as much from their titles: TomboyGirlhoodPortrait of a Lady on Fire.

Her wonderful new film, Petite Maman, is no less focused on the inner lives of its female characters. But it’s also something of a departure: This is Sciamma’s first work to earn a PG rating, and it’s both the best family movie and the best movie about a family that I’ve seen in some time.

It tells the gently surreal story of Nelly, an 8-year-old girl played by the remarkable young Joséphine Sanz, who has long brown hair and a sharp, perceptive gaze. Nelly’s just lost her maternal grandmother after a long illness. Now, she watches as her parents go about the solemn task of packing up Grandma’s house — the very house where Nelly’s mother, Marion, grew up years earlier. To pass the time, Nelly plays in the woods surrounding the house. It’s there that she meets another 8-year-old girl, who also happens to be named Marion. She’s played by Gabrielle Sanz, Joséphine’s identical twin sister.

This eerie encounter naturally raises a lot of questions: Who is Marion, and why does she look so much like Nelly? Is this forest the backdrop for a modern-day fairy tale, or have we slipped through a hole in the space-time continuum? Sciamma is in no hurry to provide the answers. The title Petite Maman — which translates literally as “Little Mom” — provides a bit of a clue. But one of the pleasures of this movie is the way it casually introduces a series of strange events as if there were nothing strange about them at all.

At times the movie feels like a live-action version of Hayao Miyazaki’s anime fantasies like Ponyo or My Neighbor Totoro: full of childlike wonderment, but also very matter-of-fact in its approach to magic. Rather than being puzzled by the situation, Nelly and Marion simply accept it and become fast friends. You accept it, too, mainly because the Sanz sisters have such a sweet and funny rapport onscreen.

Sciamma’s camera follows the girls as they run around the woods, gathering leaves and branches to build a hut. Eventually Marion invites Nelly over to her house, which looks an awful lot like Nelly’s grandmother’s house. There, the girls giggle as they cook up a messy pancake breakfast and act out a hilariously elaborate murder mystery. Few recent movies have so effortlessly captured the joy and creativity of children at play.

Petite Maman itself plays a kind of game with the audience, and you figure out the rules as you watch. You learn to tell the girls apart based on slight differences in hairstyle and the colors that they wear. You also get to know a few of the adult characters hovering on the periphery: At one point, Nelly introduces her father to her new best friend, and if he thinks there’s anything weird about this, he doesn’t show it. Meanwhile, Nelly’s mother — the older Marion — has temporarily left the house, needing some time to herself to grieve her mother’s death.

And without a hint of didacticism, Petite Maman reveals itself as very much a movie about grief, about how a child learns to cope with sudden loss and inevitable change. It’s also about how hard it is to really know who your parents were before they became your parents. But in this movie, Nelly gets the rare chance to see or perhaps imagine her mother as the sweet, sensitive, independent-minded young girl she used to be.

Although Petite Maman is decidedly different from Sciamma’s art-house touchstone Portrait of a Lady on Fire, they’re structured in similar ways: In both films, two female characters are granted a brief, even utopian retreat from the outside world and something mysterious and beautiful transpires. If that’s not enough of an enticement, you should know that Petite Maman runs a tight 72 minutes and achieves an emotional depth that eludes many movies twice its length. It’s funny, sad, full of enchanting possibilities and over far too soon — sort of like childhood itself.

We can’t wait for “France” starring Léa Seydoux

France is one of five (five!) Léa Seydoux movies hitting theaters this year. Here’s what you need to know.

Just call 2021 the Year of Léa Seydoux. Thanks to a combination of a consistently busy schedule and a confluence of timing factors, the French actor has no less than five movies releasing this year between “Deception,” “The Story of My Wife,” “No Time to Die” (which was famously stuck in a series of pandemic delays), the recently-released “The French Dispatch,” and now “France.” Her latest film puts Seydoux front-and-center of the action as the eponymous France de Meurs, a famous journalist who finds her life turned completely on its head after a reckless accident. As opposed to her more immediately recognizable movies this year, “France” appears to give the actor much more dynamic material to chew on. Read on for everything there is to know about “France.”

“France” comes to American theaters on December 10, 2021. The film held its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in July of 2021, followed by its domestic release in France on August 25.

What Is France?

“France” is billed as a “tragicomedy” about a famous TV journalist, starting off as a news satire before shifting tones completely to something much heavier and more serious. Much of the inspiration for the film came from how saturated our modern world has become through our collective obsession with all things digital. Accordingly, the story attempts to find the line between reality and fiction and a journalist’s role amid all the chaos. In short: this movie sounds like a lot, which only makes me even more eager to see it for myself.

In FRANCE, a satirical drama set in contemporary Paris, Léa Seydoux stars as France de Meurs, a seemingly unflappable superstar TV journalist whose career, home life, and psychological stability are turned upside down after she carelessly drives into a young delivery man on a busy street. This unexpected eruption of reality triggers a series of self-reckonings as well as a strange romance that proves impossible to shake. As France attempts to slow down and retreat into a simpler, anonymous life, her fame continues to pursue her. Starting out as a tragicomic satire of the news media, writer-director Bruno Dumont’s provocative new film spirals out into something darker as it examines the difficulty of maintaining one’s sense of self in a corrosive culture

 

Continue reading “We can’t wait for “France” starring Léa Seydoux”

6 Best Movies Set In Paris

Read about some of the best movie sets in the wonderful and romantic city of Paris. From Hugo to Midnight in Paris, this list has it all.

by SVETLANA STERLIN

Paris, beyond being the city of love, makes for an atmospheric and visually pleasing film setting. Whether the story involves characters falling in love, discovering something about themselves, or learning the history of France, the setting often makes the story more enjoyable for viewers and encourages characters to go exploring. Here are six great films set in Paris.

Midnight In Paris (2011)
Owen Wilson stars as a screenwriter named Gil Pender, giving an excellent dramatic performance, though still infused with his trademark comedic quirks. Accompanying Gil on his trip to Paris is his fiancé (Rachel McAdams) and her parents. He hopes to find inspiration in the city to write his first novel, even though he’s not sure he’s up to the task.

Every night, he goes for a midnight walk, but he doesn’t just walk through the Parisian streets – he finds himself travelling back through time to the 1920s, his golden age of literature. Gil meets Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and his other creative idols, all of whom seem to be awaiting his arrival, ready to give him writing advice.

Hugo (2011)
Martin Scorsese isn’t the first director one might think of for a children’s movie, but Hugo offers a story that transcends easy categorisation. The film begins as young Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is orphaned in the 1930s, left to fend for himself at a Parisian train station, where he operates the clocks after his father’s death. One of the few possessions his father (Jude Law) has left Hugo is his automaton that requires a special key to activate it.

Hugo befriends Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) after stealing from her godfather’s toy store. She helps Hugo solve the mystery of his father’s automaton, which leads them on an adventure of discovery about the history of filmmaking.

Amélie (2001)
Audrey Tautou stars as the titular character in this charming French romantic comedy directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Amélie is a quirky protagonist who is raised isolated from peers her age after her parents mistakenly diagnose her with a heart condition.

The film focuses on her young adulthood in Paris, where she’s surrounded by characters almost as quirky as her. A chance discovery of a box of childhood treasures in her apartment leads her on a search for their owner, which in turn leads Amélie on a search for love.

Les Misérables (2012)
Les Misérables has been made and remade for the screen many times, as well as staged for theatre productions. Many of the adaptations are worthy, but the 2012 version may be one of the most popular. Based on the classic French novel by Victor Hugo published in 1862, the story of Les Misérables follows Jean Valjean (in this movie, Hugh Jackman) as he tries to start a new life after being released from prison.

But after breaking parole, he is pursued by the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe). Valjean takes a young girl (Amanda Seyfried) into his care but can never escape Javert’s wrath. Anne Hathaway also stars in the film, a performance that earned her an Academy Award. The musical drama is guided by emotion to explore oppression, rebellion, and freedom against the backdrop of war.

Casablanca (1942)
One of the most iconic war romances of all time, Casablanca is an emotional tale of a nightclub owner named Rick (Humphrey Bogart) who helps his ex-lover escape into a better life with her husband. The story takes place during World War II, which makes the film very timely, and all the more resonant with contemporary audiences.

Though the primary story is set in Casablanca, Morocco, much of the significance behind Rick and Isla’s romance is centered around Paris. Paris becomes such an integral part of the story that it feels almost like a character, haunting them as their feelings for one another resurface.

Ratatouille (2007)

Ratatouille (2007)
An animated film, Ratatouille tells the story of a rat who dreams of becoming a renowned French chef. He doesn’t take into consideration that humans despise rodents and would never even try a meal prepared by them.

The ideas presented within the film struck a chord with many viewers, young and old, and earned the film an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Source: 6 Best Movies Set In Paris – Our Culture

Interview with Isabelle Adjani (1977)

At 22, the young actress is an international star thanks to her role in “Adèle H” by François Truffaut and has just shot her first film in the United States, “The Driver”.

En Fançais

A 22 ans, la jeune actrice est une star internationale grâce à son rôle dans “Adèle H” de François Truffaut et vient de tourner son premier film aux Etats-Unis, “The Driver”. Avec maturité, éloquence, et naturel, Isabelle Adjani se confie à Christian Defaye sur ses débuts dans “Le petit bougnat”, son passage à la Comédie-Française, les rôles qui l’ont marquée, son travail de comédienne. Cet entretien événement fut exceptionnellement diffusé à 20h20, avant le film de la soirée, le 13 décembre 1977 dans Spécial Cinéma.

Jean-Luc and Pierre Dardenne: A Portrait of 2020’s Lumiere Awardees

When Jean-Luc and Pierre Dardenne gained the Palme d’Or for “Rosetta” in 1999 — upending such hotly fancied contenders as Pedro Almodovar’s “All About My Mom” — it wasn’t precisely an out-of-nowhere arrival. The Belgian brothers have been already of their mid-forties, having begun their profession in documentary filmmaking 20 years earlier than, and had already loved a fiction breakthrough with 1996’s award-winning “La Promesse.”

However it felt like an invigorating new wave all the identical. Towards the tip of a decade marked by auteurist flash and swagger, the empathetic, unvarnished realism of their working-class survival story gave world cinema a clean-scrubbed human face: intent on making audiences focus extra on the lives being introduced than the administrators’ fashion of presentation.

In a career-making efficiency, the 18-year-old Emelie Dequenne performed a teen struggling to help herself and her alcoholic mom with fleeting, fragile jobs: Although by the way a damning examine of Belgian labour legislation and social welfare, the movie was no political screed. With the sort of grainy on a regular basis element that solely comes by way of acute human curiosity and statement — all the way down to its wince-inducing depiction of interval ache amid poverty — the brothers plainly distinguished themselves from the filmmakers to whom they drew instant crucial comparisons, together with Ken Loach and Robert Bresson. Continue reading “Jean-Luc and Pierre Dardenne: A Portrait of 2020’s Lumiere Awardees”

WATCH: Deauville Film Festival: The winners unveiled

“The Nest” by director Sean Durkin scooped the top prize at the Deauville American Film Festival on Saturday, September 12, and claimed two other awards with jury president Vanessa Paradis praising the direction and the acting of its leads Jude Law and Carrie Coon.