By Roger Costa
The French are coming to town. Right in time to celebrate the rise of the new season, the re-opening of NYC’s movie theaters and the best in contemporary world cinema- sorry everyone, but there’s nothing like French cinema. No wonder they have created the art.
Film At Lincoln Center in partnership with UniFrance present the 26th edition of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the celebrated Film Festival that showcases emerging talents, established auteurs and exciting debuts through diversely modern lenses. With an eclectic selection of features ranging from comedies to romance, and from arthouse to thrillers, the Festival offers to both New Yorkers and audiences nationwide, something to please every mood. Most of these titles had been selected for last year’s cancelled Cannes which confirms the importance of their material. They are also executed as stories of love and desire, elements constantly depicted throughout these films:
In the genuinely erotic SPRING BLOSSOM, a 16-year-old student develops an intense obsession for a much older man, an actor stagging a play at the local theatre. 20-year-old Suzanne Lindon’s astonishing debut is an absorbing and honest look at a teen girl’s self-exploration of her female potential, her sensuality, body and intellect. A work of grand bravura!
Love also rules the heart of a young man in A L’ABORDAGE. After spending an unforgettable one-night-stand, he teams up with his careless buddy and a neurotic driver to travel to the French countryside and surprise the girl during her vacation. Influenced by the sensibility and witty of Eric Rohmer, and giving rom-com a modernized wardrobe, director Guillaume Brac crafts an affecting and sharply hilarious interracial romance while depicting the troubles of Millennials hearts.
A superbly written allegory on modern behavior towards desire and love, ambition and success, Emmanuel Mouret’s LOVE AFFAIR(S) is definitely among the best romantic comedies made in the 21st Century so far. An aspiring writer is hosted by his cousin’s pregnant lady, while seeking inspiration for a novel. As they discuss curious topics of their previous tumultuous relationships, a trustful (and ambiguous) friendship ensues. Filled with brilliant dialogue, this sparklingly beautiful examination on the war of the sexes gathers a clan of lovers as they engage on a swing habit ruled by their hormones and intellect, with efficiently moving and pleasantly sincere results.
Iconic star Emmanuelle Béart exceeds in the role of MARGAUX HARTMANN, a grieving woman who tries to get back with her life after losing her husband. She enrolls in a Master’s program and immediately connects to the younger students, being influenced to regain her confidence and reassurance of her beauty and vigor. An impressively crafted drama, first time director Ludovic Bergery explores the moral, sexual and generational materials with firm hands, brilliantly displaying his potential as a new auteur. Giving her character an enigmatic, powerful presence, Béart delivers a tour-de-force performance, shining through melancholy, despair and loneliness in contrast with a disordered male universe traversing her way.
(Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2021 runs Virtually nationwide March 4-14. Go to https://virtual.filmlinc.org/page/rendez-vous-with-french-cinema/ for full program and schedule, tickets and details.)