Aurore (I Got Life) – Blandine Lenoir

By Neil Murphy Agnès Jaoui creates the wonderfully heartfelt character of ‘Aurore’, in a film about female solidarity, hope and love. As an alt rom-com based around the tribulations of menopause, it leaves the audience with warm flushes of happiness. Aurore is amicably separated from her husband but having previously worked for his company she…

120 BPM (Beats Per Minute) – Robin Campillo

By Neil Murphy 120 BPM is a moving love story that deals with death, yet throbs with life. It is all the more powerful for it’s restrained passion, dignity and indignation. As a film based on opposition and opposites, it is crafted into a harmonious whole. There is a perfect balance of theme, structure, character and…

Le Sens de la Fête (C’est La Vie) – Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache

Since the huge success both at home and internationally of Intouchables, Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache have struggled to find another hit of the same magnitude  And it’s unlikely this tepid, patchy comedy is the answer. It’s an ensemble piece with some fine acting notably from Jean-Pierre Bacri as the owner of a wedding planning business.…

Mon Garçon (My Son) – Christian Carion

Guillaume Canet is excellent as the desperate father seeking his kidnapped young son in Christian Carion’s taut thriller. Reworking a theme seen recently in the hugely successful Taken series and Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoner, Carion takes the action to snowy eastern France. A bleak area of the country which reflects the icy relationship between Julien (Canet)…

Les Grands Esprits (The Teacher) – Olivier Ayache-Vidal

It’s difficult to find a new twist on the hackneyed classroom drama and Ayache-Vidal relies on the talent of his two lead actors to hold the audience’s interest. Denis Podalydès of the Comédie-Française is exceptional as the unadventurous classics teacher at one of France’s high achieving public schools while newcomer Abdoulaye Diallo displays a winning…

Bonne Pomme (Nobody’s Perfect) – Florence Quentin

Two of France’s most iconic actors – Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve – appear on screen for the tenth time in Florence Quentin’s lightweight romantic drama. And both talented actors deserve better than this tepid, confusing film which is clearly suffering from an identity crisis. Part comedy-part fantasy, Bonne Pomme never seems to get going…

Le Prix du Succès (The Price of Success) – Teddy Lussi-Modeste 

Who would have thought the world of stand-up comedy in France is such a cut-throat business? But Lussi-Modeste’s second full-length feature portrays a milieu where making people laugh is the last thing on anyone’s mind. Tahar Rahim is a successful stand-up comedian whose career is on the rise.  His brother and manager Mourad (Roschdy Zem…

Visages Villages – Agnes Varda and JR

It’s a strange partnership, iconic New Wave director Agnès Varda and hipster street artist JR, but the exchange of ideas between the two in Visages Villages is wonderfully engaging. The film is simplicity itself. Varda and JR cross France on a mission to put ordinary people and their stories in the spotlight. There are ex-miners,…

Ce Qui Nous Lie (Back to Burgundy) – Cédric Klapisch  

Fans of Cédric Klapisch have waited four years for the director to return to the big screen. Is Ce Qui Nous Lie worth the wait?  Klapisch is playing safe with a family drama set among the picturesque vineyards of southern France.  It’s about all the French hold dear – love, family, tradition – and of…

L’Amant Double – François Ozon

Ozon’s  L’Amant Double failed to pick up any prizes at this year’s Cannes Film Festival which is not to say his take on Joyce Carole Oate’s Lives of the Twins is without merit. This erotic thriller does the job of keeping the audience guessing and is full of entertaining filmic references and cinematic devices. But…