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…

Chacun Sa Vie – Claude Lelouche

Veteran director Claude Lelouche turns 80 in October and has struggled in recent years to find the form which earned him an Oscar for A Man and a Woman in 1967.  His last film, Un + Une, a quirky romantic comedy set in India with Jean Dujardin and Elza Zylberstein in the lead roles, saw a partial…

Raid dingue (RAID: Special unit) – Dany Boon

It’s a testament to the popularity of Dany Boon that a run-of the-mill comedy like RAID Dingue can pull in over a million spectators in less than a week. Boon has been a sure-fire hit at the box office since the huge success of Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis (Welcome to the Sticks) in 2008. And…

Dalida – Lisa Azuelos

Lisa Azuelos’s film of one of France’s most popular singers skims over the surface of the life of the Egyptian/Italian artist to hone in on her disastrous relationships with men interspersed with a race through some of her most memorable hits. For a singer who sold over 80 million records worldwide, this is no mean feat.  But it’s doubtful if…

Un Sac de Billes (A Bag of Marbles) – Christian Duguay

Christian Duguay’s Un Sac de Billes is the second time the best-selling autobiographical novel has been brought to the big screen coming over forty years after Jacques Doillon’s own adaptation of the book by Joseph Jollo.  On the positive side, Duguay’s film is beautifully shot and boasts fine performances from its two main actors aged just 17 and 12-years-old.…