Sunday, March 07, 2010

French Film Festival 2010 - 6

Nothing great to report today - an unsatisfactory thriller and an acceptable children's film. But it's a long weekend, and I'm seeing another two tomorrow.
  • Pour elle (Anything For Her, Fred Cavayé, France, 2008)
  • Lucky Luke (James Huth, France/Argentina, 2009)
Anything For Her
This French thriller was first released two years ago, and I'm wondering if the only reason it made it to the festival is the celebrity of a character played by Diane Kruger, who luminously portrayed the glamorous German actress Bridget von Hammersmark in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Kruger's character is central but not major in Anything For Her, and I enjoyed seeing her in another role. She has a nice screen presence, but there's not much else I liked about this film.

Right from the start, details of this film bothered me but I reserved my judgements. A conjugal pairing between characters played by a miscast Vincent Lindon and Kruger didn't seem quite real. The seventeen-year age difference is not completely unbelievable, though the stereotype is a bit tired. Despite several years of marriage and a young son, their being smitten with each other like hormone-raging teenagers borders on incredulity. "OK, suppress the critique", I thought to myself. "Give it chance to breathe". Unfortunately, it only gets worse.

As mentioned, there are problems with Lindon's casting. On the one hand, we're to believe he's a Mr. Everyman, an ordinary Joe who finds himself in an extraordinary situation. He's a teacher but he looks like a hardened crim or cop, dressing like one, too. Yet, when he takes the law into his own hands, he sort of looks the part, but doesn't convince that he attempt (what to speak of succeed at) what is required.

The plot according to IMDb: "With no legal means left to him, a high school teacher devises a daring plan to rescue his wrongfully imprisoned wife from jail". Yeah, I know, it sounds like it could be silly but it also has possibility. The problem is really with the writing, which allows all kinds of ridiculous contrivances that would never happen in real life. Like a young child picking up and pointing what should be a very heavy handgun. Obviously the gun is a prop. Or meticulously planning an escape over three months, only to leave all your detailed plans in the rubbish bin for the police to find. The sentimental and anything but subtle music also grates.

There are so many details I could fault, but will leave it at that. I know there's a market for this kind of film, and I think an undemanding, mainstream audience will love it. Others seemed to like it more than me. I found it to be basically telemovie material.

Lucky Luke
The festival program lists this film with a G classification, which I doubt it could get for a commercial release. There is more than one scene where Lucky Luke punches a woman in the face, a PC no-no here. However, there's no doubt it's a children's film, and the punching scenes are a surprise simply because it's not something we normally see depicted in film (and perhaps is the better for it).

Based on a popular comic-book character, the film is quite funny but a little too silly for an adult-only audience. What I find most amusing is the Utah, USA setting (though no doubt it was not filmed in the US) and the western interpretations by the French. It does for the western (or spaghetti western) what OSS 177, Lost in Rio does for James Bond. It even has OSS 177's Jean Dujardin starring in the title role. As in that film, I find him very charming and amusing, though this film is clearly aiming at a younger demographic. Verdict: unless you're a fan of the books, it's children only, and good fun for them.

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