For its 26th film festival, the Alliance Française is presenting a wide and smart range of French films from 2014 and 2015. In Sydney until March 22, the festival will also be in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Byron Bay and Hobart for the first time.
With more than 250 films produced each year in France, 49 films have been selected for the Australian audience. To experience new emotions, laughs or even tears, it is a must-do for the beginning of autumn. From this very eclectic selection, three pieces are a must-see.
Directed by Bertrand Bonello and starring Gaspard Ulliel and Lea Seydoux, Saint Laurent is an impressive celebration of the famous and flamboyant designer Yves Saint Laurent. In this biopic, Saint Laurent is depicted during his most successful part of his career but also with his anxiety, addictions, friendships and love deceptions.
Even though a bit long and heavy, the re-incarnation of Saint Laurent by Ulliel is majestic, and Jeremy Renier is excellent playing his partner for life, Pierre Bergé. The soundtrack and chic clothes are pleasant to the eye, and even in his darkest hours, YSL stays fascinating.
UNE NOUVELLE AMIE – THE NEW GIRLFRIEND
Directed by Francois Oston and starring Romain Duris and Anais Demoustier, The New Girlfriend is a touching drama about grief, femininity and friendship. Claire, (Demoustier), is grieving the loss of her lifetime best friend who has left behind a husband, David, (Duris), and a newborn baby. On an unannounced visit, a shocked Claire discovers David holding his baby while wearing the clothes of his dead wife. She will understand later the desire of David to be and act as a woman.
Not so sad, The New Girlfriend is a well-directed dramatic comedy where the actors are outstanding. Duris, usually charming the ladies, is here becoming a beautiful woman, seeking identity and understanding. A must-see to understand French bourgeois codes in a film that effortlessly fuses an Almodóvar-like scenario.
Directed by Anne Fontaine and starring Fabrice Luchini and Gemma Arterton, Gemma Bovery is a beautiful comedy. English couple Gemma and Charles Bovery move into a small Normandy town and turn upside down the quiet world of Martin Joubert, the local baker and Flaubert fan. He pictures Gemma as the new Mrs Bovary and follows the Flaubert storyline with multiple paths crossing.
Screened on opening night and with re-plays all during the festival, Gemma Bovery is a must-see. Luchini is as comical as usual, Arterton is a mysterious and refreshing actress, boasting a beautiful English accent. This is a very charming retelling of the classic Madame Bovary story with a visual feast of the picturesque countryside and amazing crispy bread.
For more information on dates and screenings, visit the French Film Festival website.