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…

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…

Django – Etienne Comar

Based on the 2013 novel Folles De Django by Alexis Salatko, Etienne Comar’s fictional account of popular gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt’s wartime experiences in occupied France singularly fails to capture the high-octane energy of the Belgian-born Romani musician. This is a disappointing debut for Comar who is in the director’s chair for the first time.…

A Bras Ouverts  (With Open Arms) – Philippe de Chauveron

Philippe de Chauveron hit box-office gold with Serial ‘Bad’ Weddings in 2014. With over 12 million admissions it was the year’s most popular French film.  Its overtly rascist humour was too much for anglophone audiences and the film was not picked up by distributors either in the UK or the US.  But this didn’t stop…

Telle mère, Telle fille (Like mother, Like daughter) – Noémie Saglio

Director Noémie Saglio and actress Camille Cottin make a formidable team. Cottin has appeared in Saglio’s last three films – Toute Première Fois, Harry Me – The Royal Bitch of Buckingham and this latest outing-  Telle Mère, Telle Fille.  Harry Me, a toe-curling series of candid-camera gags was a box office success in France with…

Sage Femme (The Midwife) – Martin Provost

Director Martin Provost continues to focus on female relationships in his latest film Sage Femme which brings together for the first time two of France’s most seasoned actresses – Catherine Deneuve (La Tete Haute) and Catherine Frot (Marguerite). After wowing critics with Séraphine in 2008, Provosts’s Sage Femme is a disappointingly dull film which lacks a…