Hard as it is to imagine, Isabelle Huppert is a farmer in this quintessentially European romantic comedy from writer/director Marc Fitoussi.
She plays fiftysomething Brigitte, long married to Xavier (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) and the couple are prize-cattle breeders in Normandy. While life is good, Brigitte’s world has been thrown into flux by their children’s recent departure from home.
A party held by students on the adjoining property accelerates her crisis and Brigitte impulsively sets off for Paris under the guise of a doctor’s appointment. City life thrills her and when she meets the charming Danish dentist Jesper (Michael Nyqvist), she impulsively allows herself to be flattered by his attentions.
Beautifully performed by the lead actors, there are quite a few pleasant surprises in this bittersweet and appealing fable about the choices of everyday life. And a reminder that it’s never too late to change.
M from Dec 4. (Unpreviewed).
★ Thanks to Palace Films we have 10 double preview passes to give away – See our Giveaways page for details and how to enter
A Thousand Times Goodnight
Erik Poppe’s well-intentioned but unconvincing study of an emotionally damaged war photographer (Juliette Binoche) is a pick this week, mainly because of the presence of her husband, Sir Jaime Lannister (aka Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).
Though GoT fans of the handsomely-bearded actor may not be too impressed with his role here as house husband Marcus, reduced to moping about petulantly while his wife tries to sort her work-life balance thing. Making school lunches? Or charging around the world’s hot spots earning big bucks and international praise?
It’s a tough one… Binoche is a lovely actress, but miscast, she’s too soft to be a fearless, battled-hardened adrenalin junkie. Even less convincing is the role of Kabul’s jihad militants. Would they really invite a photograher from the NY Times along to document them preparing young female suicide bombers for their hideous destinies?
M from Nov 27.
The Dark Horse
Amidst all the grumbling over the box-office failure of local films recently, has anyone thought about casting their eyes across the Tasman? No, of course not, such is our disdain for our “little cousins”. But perhaps we should?
James Napier Robertson’s superbly accomplished feature about a bipolar chess genius (based on a true story) was a sensation in NZ and there are plenty of lessons here on how to tell a story that packs an emotional punch. Comparisons with Once Were Warriors are inevitable but unfair.
Yes, it stars Cliff Curtis – in the performance of his career – and yes, Maori social disadvantage (as well as incredible family solidarity) form the core of this tragic yet uplifting story. But the less said about that the better – this is outside the mould, and blessedly, doesn’t give mental illness a falsely romantic glow (Shine).
It will both confront and move you to tears. It deserves the respect (and success) it will surely get. Aussie filmmakers take note.
M from Nov 20.
Men, Women & Children
Our addiction to screens and devices is a great subject for a savagely funny satire, but sadly, Jason Reitman’s sermonising, overly sober film isn’t one.
I’m not sure what it is, though it does serve up some alarming scenarios and very sad characters, especially Jennifer Garner as a paranoid spying mum who has commandeered all her daughter’s passwords, and Travis Trope as a teenage boy who can only get sexually charged up via a screen.
Everyone is disconnected and unhappy, and no doubt that’s Reitman’s point. But they’re all so morose that, really, how can we care?
CTC from Nov 27.
Nri Bige Ceylan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) makes the sort of movies that get David Stratton all excited – they’re very long, very slow and feature men with beards (“4 and half stars”). This one is set in winter in barely-lit rooms, and we watch the crumbling marriage of a proud and vain man come unstuck…
He’s Aydin, an ageing former actor (Haluk Bilginer) and wealthy owner of a quaint hotel in picture postcard Cappadocia – that remote part of central Turkey with the weird rock formations. Be warned, if Chekov and Bergman scare you, do look elsewhere. But you’ll miss a film of lacerating and merciless power.
There’s one carthatic scene towards the end, featuring Aydin’s guilt-ridden wife Nihal (Melisa Sozen) which after a long, slow, agonisingly tense built up, literally made my heart stop.
But it wasn’t even the climax (call an ambulance!) – there was more!
M on now at Dendy Newtown.