Back in Scotland for its 25th anniversary, the French Film Festival once again serves up a feast of cinematic treats this winter. With a selection of the finest and most hotly-anticipated releases from the past couple of years, peppered with some old classics for added seasoning, the programme is sure to cater to all breeds of film lovers.
The Edinburgh Filmhouse and the Glasgow Film Theatre are proud to have been the original founding partners of the festival, though it has since spilled out over those city limits to infiltrate cinemas up and down the length and breadth of the UK. North of the border, it’ll also be visiting Aberdeen, Dundee, Dunoon, Inverness and Stirling. Here are a few choice highlights from this year’s schedule, though there is plenty to get your chompers into in the full programme, now available online.
Michel Hazanavicius / France / 2016 / 102 mins
After his successful depiction of the death of the silent movie with The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius now sets his sights on another period in cinematic history – French new wave. Specifically, it’s the trials and turmoils of Jean-Luc Godard’s private life that go under the microscope, as the cult director struggles with the dubious reception of his later work and an increasingly turbulent relationship with those close to him. Despite such a synopsis, it’s a light treatment of the subject, with plenty of room for wry insight and affectionate comedy.
Carine Tardieu / France / 2016 / 97 mins
If there’s one thing that Game of Thrones has taught us, it’s that all’s fair in love and incest. This offbeat tale about questionable parenthood and unwitting incest sees a widowed man suddenly learn that his father may not have been who he thought he was, while his recent love interest might well be his sister. Despite the potentially viscous themes, the film retains a light, playful tone that doesn’t sacrifice gravitas for gags.
Laurent Cantet / France / 2016 / 113 mins
Dangerous Minds meets Dead Poets Society meets American History X, anyone? And all that in a downtrodden French town on the outskirts of Marseille, to boot. Famous novelist Olivia Dejazet attempts to connect with disadvantaged youths through a creative writing workshop, but one of the hotter-headed students alarms and attracts with his visceral prose and provocative views in almost equal measure. A multicultural melting pot of a movie, which has garnered serious critical acclaim since its release last year.
Lucas Belvaux / France, Belgium / 2016 / 118 mins
Political cinema at its most contemporary. This Is Our Land is a sort of dramatized documentary which examines what happens when an apolitical nurse suddenly finds herself as the poster child for the far right. The dirty side of politics are aired for all to see, all the while outlining both the pros and cons of the National Front’s manifesto and still maintaining an engaging story arc. For anyone with an interest in politics in general and the recent French election in particular, it’s a must.
They say there’s someone out there for everyone, and this kooky, quirky tale from the Belgian-based directorial duo certainly gives credence to the idea. Gordon herself plays the hapless librarian from Canada who visits Paris on a desperate mission to save her octogenarian aunt from the horrors of an old people’s home, only for irritating but impossible-to-stay-mad-at tramp Dom to befriend them both. A charming tale of finding love in the unlikeliest of places (apart from the Paris bit, that’s very likely).
François Ozon / France / 2017 / 107 mins
For those who like their French thrillers with a hefty dose of eroticism, The Double Lover ticks all boxes and tickles a fair few fancies, as well. When doe-eyed model Chloé is convinced her stomach cramps are psychosomatic, she starts seeing an analyst – but their relationship soon becomes far more than just professional. However, it’s only after moving in with the enigmatic man that Chloé realises there may be more to him than meets the eye, and her grip on reality quickly begins to slacken.