Top 10 French films of 2015

 

Unknown UnknownUnknown-3Unknown512237.jpg-r_160_240-b_1_D6D6D6-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxx

UnknownUn-Homme-Ideal_portrait_w193h257Unknown-2UnknownUnknown

 

As 2016 gets underway, it’s never too late to look back at the best of French cinema in 2015. Here is French Cinema Review’s Top 10 French films of 2015. It’s a list of my personal favourites. Feel free to let me know those French films you most enjoyed in 2015.

Asphalte

–  Samuel Benchetrit delivered a wonderfully surreal, funny, human drama set against the unlikely backdrop of a run-down housing estate in a faceless region of France.  Asphalte is a true celebration of the odd and eccentric with plenty of visual comedy redolent of Jacques Tati.  And a deceptively simple, sparse dialogue full of deadpan humour. Isabelle Huppert excels as the insecure, vodka-drinking actress whose career has fallen apart while American actor Michael Pitt plays the bewildered US  astronaut to perfection.

 

21 Nuits Avec Pattie

– The Larrieu brothers have a reputation for directing films with bizarre, quixotic storylines and 21 Nuits avec Pattie fits the bill perfectly. There are dead bodiies, ghosts, even a necrophiliac yet they deftly avoid the morbid and macabre. Even if the film starts to run out of steam towards the end, this is the Larrieu brothers at the top of their game. With 21 Nuits avec Pattie they have produced a wonderful, startlingly sexually frank, intriguing gem of a film.

Comme un Avion

– There’s a definite whiff of Wes Anderson about actor/director Bruno Podalydès Comme Un Avion, the first film where he pushes aside his younger sibling Denis to take on the lead role himself to great effect. It a delightful film, full of subtle humour which swings between absurd, surreal comedy and Jacques Tatiesque gentle slapstick. Sandrine Kiberlain, Agnès Jaoui, and of course, brother Denis Podalydès complete the excellent cast.

La loi du Marché

 – Stéphane Brizé’s La Loi du Marché  is social realism at its grittiest and most unforgiving.  The film takes a swipe at society’s failure to address the real consequences of France’s unprecedentedly high unemployment rate as seen through the eyes of a 51-year-old blue-collar worker.  Vincent Lindon’s captivating performance as the decent, hardworking Thierry, forced to accept a job which runs counter to his basic principles is almost too difficult to watch and deservedly earned him the Best Actor prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Un Peu Beaucoup Aveuglement

– Directed by and starring the multi-talented Clovis Cornillac in the lead role, this film was the deserving winner of the Audience award at April’s  COLCOA French film festival in Los Angeles. It’s a romantic comedy with a dark, distinctly Gallic flavour.  Although there is nothing new in the basic ‘opposites attract’ plot line, Cornillac throws in an interesting mix of secondary characters and some whimsical set pieces which raise the film to a new level.

Les Cowboys

– Thomas Bidegain’s directorial debut is a successful re-working of John Ford’s classic The Searchers starring John Wayne. It’s the kind of well-crafted, meticulously detailed film to be expected from Jacques Audiard’s long-time screenwriting collaborator. Les Cowboys is a chilling tale told with admirable clarity of a family’s personal trauma and how they are swept up in events taking place on a much larger scale.

 Un Moment d’Egarement

– Jean-François Richet’s entertaining remake of Claude Berri’s 1977 film is bang up-to-date with mobile phones, selfies, beach raves and Vincent Cassel and François Cluzet as the two fathers in charge of their libidinous teenage daughters during the long summer vacation. It’s all good fun and, given the explosive nature of the storyline, surprisingly tasteful, even oddly innocent. Richet’s focus on a father struggling to accept his daughter growing up deflects from the more ovetly sexual questions raised by the film while the mood is kept light and simple by the fast-paced banter between Cassel and Cluzet.

Un Homme Idéal

– Yann Gozlan’s film is an efficient, visually stylish thriller with shades of Alfred Hitchock which maintains the tension throughout and is hugely watchable despite a predictable plot and too-tidy ending.  Pierre Niney is an aspiring writer struggling to get his first book published when he stumbles across the diary of an old man writing of experiences as a soldier during the Algerian war and decides to publish the book under his own name.  Niney is faultless as the ambitious Matthieu, whose greed and desire to impress set in motion a series of macabre events which prove crime doesn’t pay.

Le Dernier Coup de Marteau

– For her second full-length feature, Alix Delaporte delivered a gem of a film, brimming over with emotion, beautifully paced with exquisite performances from the three lead actors especially young newcomer Romain Paul.  Delaporte has a rare talent for telling a story without using melodrama to heighten the effect.  Le Dernier Coup de Marteau is a joy from beginning to end and well deserving of the Laterna prize for Delaporte as last year’s Venice Film Festival.

Timbuktu

– With a modest budget of 2 million euros, Abderrahmane Sissako created a magnifient, visually stunning film about a group of Islamic fundamentalists who take over the Malian city of Timbuktu and instigate Sharia law.  It’s a hommage to the durability of the human spirit and Sissako’s skill is in defly avoiding the reduction of a complex situation into a simple battle between good and evil. It was one of the most original and arresting films of 2015 and more than earned the best film and best director prize at February’s  Lumières ceremony awarded by the Paris-based international press.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *