This week marks the beginning of the 2018 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival. The Festival always throws up some beauties, from sensuous dramas and quirky comedies right through to the macabre. Following is a review of See You Up There, plus two more picks from me for this year.
SEE YOU UP THERE has been described as an ‘epic crime drama’, adapted from the best-selling, award-winning novel by France’s answer to James Ellroy, Pierre Lemaire.
The story is of French infantryman, Albert Maillard (Albert Dupontel) who is nearly buried alive during one final push out of the trenches during World War I. His fate made all the more poignant as the final push was not based on an official order. The War was ending, but the sadistic Captain Pradelle (Laurent Lafitte) couldn’t resist one last push.
Maillard is saved thanks to his friend Édouard Péricourt (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart), but his savior is horribly disfigured after being hit in the face by mortar fire. When the pair return home the injured Péricourt all but gives up on life until a young girl sees beyond his injuries. Her friendship sees the solider making a range of elaborate marks to keep her amused and allow him to re-enter life. Soon the trio make a pact to sell phony monuments to French towns folk wanting to honour their dead.
The beginning third of the movie is quite hard to watch in parts, the brutality of war fully on show. Further on though the lavish 1920 boudoir and party scenes give the audience a much needed reprieve. Half way through, as Péricourt dons an increasingly bizarre array of masks, I’d put the movie firmly in the macabre category, but then came the end. An incredibly moving film definitely worth seeing.
Sadly I’ll miss the opportunity to hear more about this movie at the Special Q&A Event with Laurent Lafitte on Thursday March 15th at Cinema Paradiso. French actor Laurent Lafitte (Boomerang, AF FFF2016) will be joined by festival artistic director Philippe Platel. Should be an interesting night.
C’est la vie! (Le sens de la fête) is also high on my list, not least because it comes from the guys who made The Intouchables. It’s the story of Max a high profile but cantankerous caterer and event organiser, tasked with creating a fairytale wedding at a sumptuous 17th century château. Add in some useless staff and his mantra, “We need to adapt,” is soon tested. Well that’s enough to get me intrigued. Who doesn’t love a comic farce, especially one revolving around food?
50 Is The New 30 a romantic comedy telling the story of Marie-Francine (Valerie Lemercier), who is ‘kicked to the curb’ for a younger woman in the same week as being downsized out of her job, and decides to move back to her parents… at age 50! Sounds good.
The French Film Festival runs from March 14 to April 4.
For more information go to Palace Cinema