Friday, March 23, 2012
Cinéfranco begins tonight at TIFF Lightbox and the Festival International du Film Francophone starts of with a lovely Franco-Ontarian film, La Sacrée (Friday March 23, 2012 at 7pm) which follows François Lebas (Marc Marans) suave and convincing con man who's continually looking for a get-into-the-rich-books-quick scheme be it by marriage or family, product or service, or any combination thereof. The film has a great blend of comedy and personal dynamics and uses both the big dream chasing of big money and the down to roots hometown which is getting down on it's luck and sees both of them though new eyes, and not even necessarily as two completely separate ideas. I really enjoyed the comedy and the relationships, especially with François checking in with old acquaintance and the commentary of how people can dream, be true themselves and even maybe change a little bit along the way too. La Sacrée is a very enjoyable film, a charming comedy and excellent opening night selection.
Images from: Sur le Rythme / On the Beat and La Ligne Droit / The Straight Line
Being a fan of both dance and sport film, two of the films that were very high on my anticipation list were the dance film Sur le Rythme / On the Beat (Saturday March 24, 2012 at 4pm) and sport film La Ligne Droit / The Straight Line (Sunday March 25, 2012 at 9pm). The Québécois film Sur le Rythme / On the Beat was actually on my Most Anticipated List of 2011 (#4!) but never came to Toronto, until now! It's centred on Delphine (Mylène Saint-Sauveur), a dancer and university student who is caught between the dream of pursuing life in the world of dance or following her families expectations of university. Of course because it is a dance film, sparks fly with fellow dancer Marc (So You Think You Can Dance winner Nico Archambault) making the choice between the two options all the more complicated. I loved Sur le Rythme. I see a lot of dance films and this one not only nailed it on the dancing which is so alive and fabulous, but also did a great job connecting the emotional lives and challenges of the characters. The acting, especially with the member of Delphine's family, was very good and it relayed challenges that are often shown as a cliché in a very strong, truthful and dramatic way. And I'll admit getting to see Nico dance was also a huge draw to the film because he is such a gorgeous dancer, as he was here in top form full of joy and beautiful, expressive movement. Sur le Rythme is absolutely wonderful and a must-see for all dance film fans and coming of age fans. Switching up the movement from dance to running we see the French film La Ligne Droit / The Straight Line which is pairs Leila (Rachida Brakni) , recently released from prison with a recently blinded runner Yannick (Cyril Descours) looking for a new guide to run with. I was totally blown away by the film, the concept alone was enough to get me interested as never hearing of something like this before, and the drive and passion that must go with it. It was also extremely complex emotionally, putting 2 characters who had gone through traumatic circumstance together and having different levels of control, power and needs that created a fascinating dynamic. I also loved the depiction of seeing people and the relationships they have with people for a long time versus new relationships and how that changes their interactions, predispositions, assumptions and experiences. It's a fascinating film about people, relationships, the striving to overcome challenges as well as supporting others. Highly recommend checking out La Ligne Droit / The Straight Line.
Above image from RIF (Recherches dan l'interet des familles) / Report for Missing Persons
If crime films are more up your alley the festival has you covered with RIF (Recherches dan l'interet des familles) / Report for Missing Persons (Saturday March 31, 2012 at 3pm) and La désintégration / The Disintegration (Wednesday March 28, 2012 at 9pm). RIF (Recherches dan l'interet des familles) / Report for Missing Persons is an interesting exploration in role-reversal as big city cop Paris Stéphane Monnereau (Yvan Attal) heads on a family vacation to ruraler area of France when his wife Valérie (Valentina Cervi) goes missing. A very different take on crime genre and creates very interesting dynamics with Stéphane and the locals be they possible witness or the local law enforcement. A great mystery and a great drama, this one keep me intrigued and guessing the whole way through. La désintégration / The Disintegration kept me on edge as well, but for a very different reason. It shows the slow decay and uncomfortable swaying of young men who down on their luck to terrifying option of being cultivated into terrorists. I found it very unnerving, as it was uncanny how smoothly the transferring their limited options into horrifying decisions. Brilliantly acted and delivered, but extremely unnerving to watch.
Above images from: Les Geants / The Giants and Des Vents Contrairs / Headwinds
The festival features an impressive selection of dramas and three that really touched my heart were the coming of age film Les Geants / The Giants (Tuesday March 27, 2012 at 6:30pm), Des Vents Contrairs / Headwinds (Saturday March 24, 2012 at 9pm) and the closing night selection of Toute Nos Envies / All Our Desires (Sunday April 1, 2012 at 6:30pm). Les Geants / The Giants (Tuesday March 27, 2012 at 6:30pm) that features extremely strong and subtle performances from its very young cast follow three pre/early teens in cottage country who have little to know guidance or supervision. It showcases a great balance of fun and furious kids getting into trouble as well as the more harsher reality of what can go wrong when left to your own devices. Les Geants / The Giants is refreshingly non-judgmental in it's showcasing a slice-of-life story for a piece of pie that is less often picked. Des Vents Contrairs / Headwinds also shows a challenge perspective from the point of view of Paul (Benoît Magimel), whose wife (played by Audrey Tautou) disappears after an argument they have and leaves him not only struggling with life without her but also the judgment and accusation of being involved. It's a really powerful and complex drama with strong emotional resonance with between the complicated characters and relationships, and Benoît Magimel delivers a very strong performance as the films protagonist. My heart also strongly connected with the closing night film Toute Nos Envies / All Our Desires , a beautiful drama that battles the barriers of class and works against the odds from both a personal and professional stand point. I was impressed by the resonance of not only beautiful message but also the portrayal of human kindness. There cast is formidable, especially Marie Gillain and Vincent Lindon (Mademoiselle Chambon) who won over my heart, in a heartbeat.
Above image from Toute Nos Envies / All Our Desires
But the one film that truly knocked it out of the park for me was Le Premiere Homme / The First Man (Wednesday March 28, 2012 at 6:30pm), a drama adapted by the unfinished autobiography of writer Albert Camus. It follows his journey back to Algeria and the challenges of believing in and striving for equality in a divisive time. I was so very moved by this film, not only by it's message and depiction of belief, but also for the wonderful and graceful performances, especially of Jacques Gamblin in the lead role. There is also a gentle and unique portrayal of exploration of personal family history as well as history of the country that's created in an almost waking dream like state. Absolutely stunning.
Above image from Le Premiere Homme / The First Man
There so much more to discover and enjoy at this years Cinéfranco, including shorts programs on Saturday March 24, 2012 and Sunday March 25, 2012 that look fascinating and are often a great way to see new directors work before anyone else.
Want to hear more? Check out my Cinéfranco preview on Episode 65 of the Movie Moxie Podcast here.
Cinéfranco runs from March 23 - April 1, 2012 at TIFF Lightbox in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
All films are subtitled in English