Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Miami International Film Festival: Day Five

We leave sunny Florida and head back to New York City, where we dream of the tropics, start planning further adventures and attend press screenings for the New Directors/New Films series at the Museum of Modern Art.

The Page Turner

Tartan USA 85min NR

Written and Directed
by Denis Dercourt

Revenge is a dish best served cold, or so says the proverb. Auteur Denis Dercourt certainly thinks so, and he serves it right out of the fridge.

It’s the early 1990s, and 11-year-old Melanie Prouvost (Julie Richalet) is practicing for her big day. She’s auditioning for a fancy-schmancy concervitory and if she gets in, the tuition is free, something that would greatly ease the financial burden on her working class parents(Jacques Bonnaffe and Christine Citti). But then comes the inciting incident, which ruins that dream. An extra barges into the room where Melenie is in the process of auditioning, and demands an autograph from one of the juges, concert pianist Ariane Fouchecourt (Catherine Frot). This throws Melenie completely off, and she blows the rest of the piece. Her career as a concert pianist is over.

Cut to a decade later, and the beauteous Deborah Francois now plays Melanie. She’s got an internship with a major law firm headed by Jean Fouchecourt (Pascal Greggory), who, by a strange coincidence, is the husband of the very person who inadvertently destroyed her dreams all those years ago. So when she discovers that the Fouchecourt’s au pare [they have a 12 year old son named Tristan(Antoine Martynciow)] is going on holiday, and offers to replace her for a while. Thus our protagonist is able to worm her way into Ariane’s life and destroy it.

Melanie does this in a stealthy way, winning the love of Tristan and Ariane, who gives her an extra duty as the title implies, and starting what seems to be the beginnings of a lesbian relationship. There is also the problem with Ariane’s partners(Xavier De Guillebon and Martine Chevallier), in the trio she tours with, and that leads to one of the more delicious scenes in the entire film.

At only 85 minutes, this is a surprisingly leisurely film. Dercourt takes his sweet time, and except for a couple of brief scenes, including that one I mentioned about one of Ariane’s partners, there’s absolutely no violence. Ms. Francois is passive and for the most part unemotional. She smiles little, except for one scene where she meets a friend, and appears to have the makings of a female Hannibal Lector. The supporting cast is quite excellent. This is one of the better films to come out of France in the past year. See it.

Glue: Adolescence in the Middle of Nowhere
Argentina/UK, 2006; 110mins, NR

Written and Directed
by Alexis Dos Santos

Lucas (Nahuel Pérez) lives in the middle of nowhere, Argentina. It’s very much like the middle of nowhere USA or the UK. There’s nothing much to do and not very many people to do it with. Fortunately for him, he’s got his main man Nacho(Nahuel Viale), and their mutual girlfriend Andrea(Inés Efron) to keep him company.

Bordum is not Lucas’ only problem: His parents(Héctor Díaz and Verónica Llinás) split immediately after the film begins, and Lucas and his sister Flor (Florencia Braier) are stuck in the middle. But this is actually rather in the background as Lucas and his two best friends try to figure out the eternal mysteries of adolescence.

Using a seventeen-page treatment instead of a script, auteur Dos Santos leads his cast on an adventure in improvisation. He leaves it to Biscayart, Viale, and Efron to wing it through the philosophical and the filthy to give the audience an interesting look at life in a film about nothing. For the most part it works. We actually get involved. While for most of the film i Lucas narrates, for some reason near the final third of the film, Dos Santos gives the job to Andrea. The fact that they cut almost an hour might have something to do with it.

This is a very erotic film. While they never show any actual straight or gay sex, there’s lots of kissing between Andrea and the two guys, and Nacho and Lucas get very physical. Also, the title is not exactly a metaphor for anything. There’s real glue involved in one scene.

The camerawork is also something to be mentioned. The use of a super-8 camera to film some scenes gives a dreamy quality to the points of narration. However, it does seem to be a bit of a distraction.

This is one of the better artsy-fartsy adolescence flicks to come out of South American recently and is worth a look.

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