French Film Festival 2014



Frothy, silly, and sentimental, WRESTLING QUEENS pits a bunch of checkout chicks against a mob of murderous Mexicans in the World Wide Wrestling arena.

Grappling to win back the affection of her son whom she has had to foster out since committing a ferocious felony for which she was incarcerated, Rose rustles up a posse of her supermarket work pals to form a tag team of women wrestlers.

They employ a retired superstar of the ring, Richard the Lionheart, to coach them in the way of the mat, and the mania that accompanies the specious sporting spectacle causes them to become local celebrities.

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Emmanuelle Devos draws on her own vocation in JUST A SIGH (LE TEMPS DE L’AVENTURE) in which she plays a jobbing actress, Alix.

At the beginning of JUST A SIGH Alix is waiting in the wings preparing to come on stage in an Ibsen play. In some ways, Alix is waiting in the wings in real life, being somewhat at a crossroads in career and personal life.

En route from Calais, where she is appearing in the play, to Paris, where she is going for an audition, she has a chance meeting with Doug, who asks directions to a church near the Gare du Nord.

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In VIOLETTE, brilliant French actress Emmanuelle Devos portrays writer Violette Leduc.  If Simone de Beauvoir was the Queen of French letters then Violete was the princess, heir apparent to post war Paris literati.

Pic opens with Violette being pursued through a forest with proceeds from a poach in her sack. World War II is in its waning stages and she is shacked up in the country with misogynist hack Maurice Sacks. Violette is needy and clinging, legacy of her illegitimacy and the lack of intimacy displayed by her mother.

That Sacks is a homosexual is no impediment to Violette’s ardour and she subjugates herself to the scribe. Soon, Sacks sacks her by leaving her, but not before stirring a literary ambition that takes her to Paris and mentorship of de Beauvoir, beautifully played by Sandrine Kiberlaine .

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If there is one singular reason to attend the Alliance Francais Film Festival it’s Fanny Ardant. Those who are not already ardent fans of Fanny Ardant should be after seeing BRIGHT DAYS AHEAD, with Fanny at her funniest as a recently retired dentist having a clandestine affair with a man twenty years her junior.

Reeling from a forced retirement and the loss of a close friend, Ardant’s character Caroline, is gifted a trial membership at an activities club for senior citizens called Bright Days Ahead.

Bored by most of the activities, she enrols in the centre’s computer class run by louche Lothario, Julien.  His holey molar is the beginning of a fling that becomes a flaming infatuation, fanning a passion and desire that has laid dormant after decades of domesticity.

BRIGHT DAYS AHEAD has its roots in bedroom farce and there are laughs aplenty, but there is also a lovely pathos at work here, thanks to a nifty script by director Marion Vernoux, Fanny Chesnel and Marc Syrigas from the novel by Fanny Chesnel.

Mortality and redundancy can make impulsive fools of us all but it’s forgiveness that puts the adult into adultery and Caroline’s husband, Philippe, played by Patrick Chesnais, though hurt by the infidelity is the epitome of underlying and undying love.

A supporting cast of veteran French thesps including Fanny Cottencon and Marceline Loridan Ivens enliven proceedings.

With the greying of the population, welcome to the changing face of the rom com – the joys of the toy boys.

The 25th Alliance Francaise French Film Festival commences on Tuesday March 4 at Chauvel Cinema, Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona and Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace.


A cross between Robin Hood and Braveheart, MICHAEL KOHLHAAS is a bleak, brooding and brutal tale of 16th century feudalism.

At his most enigmatic photogenic best, Mads Mikkelsen plays Michael Kohlhaas, an honest horse trader continually cheated by a corrupt and cruel aristocrat. When the equine entrepreneur confronts the cruel Count and campaigns for better conditions for the common man, an act of heinous criminality is committed against Kohlhaas that sets  the horseman on a course of revenge and retribution.

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A fractured fairytale is a fair way to describe UNDER THE RAINBOW, a multi layered fable interwoven with strands of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

Flic opens with a dreamy blue dream sequence narrated by the dreamer, Laura, a reverie that prophesies her meeting with young composer, Sandro. This meeting is cut short at midnight as Sandro must pick up his mother from work and in his hasty exit he loses a shoe.

On her way to her auntie’s place in the woods, Laura encounters, Maxime, a womanising wolf, a music impresario keen to promote Sandro. Laura’s mother, a mirror on the wall youth fetishist is an adherent of an apple a day, and her aunt is an actress who directs children in fairy tale pageants.

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IT BOY, a film turning on the older woman/younger man scenario, is a fizzy, frothy confection starring the gorgeous Virginie Afira as Alice, a nearly 40 career woman, divorced single mum.

She’s been in cold blooded training to break the glass ceiling at her magazine when a brazen hussy encroaches on her domain whilst on assignment in Brazil.

Furious, she flies back to Paris, seated next to an upgraded student, Balthazar Apfel, half her age. Turbulence causes it to a be a fright flight and in the turmoil she leaves her USB behind, the device discovered by Balthazar.

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