FILM REVIEW: French Film

This second film from UK Production Company, Slingshot, examines the nature of love in a playful screenplay by Aschlin Ditta (Scenes Of A Sexual Nature).
FILM REVIEW: French Film
French Film turned out to be a lot more than the bit of fluff I was expecting. This second film from UK Production Company, Slingshot, examines the nature of love in a playful screenplay by Aschlin Ditta (Scenes Of A Sexual Nature). The plot revolves around journalist (Hugh Bonneville) and his up-coming interview with French film maker Thierry Grimandi (Eric Cantona), who regards himself as an expert on the nature of love. Scottish director, Jackie Oudney, came to film via a career directing shorts and commercials. Working entirely on location, Oudney shot at various places in London, including the recently refurbished British Film Institute at Southbank. The audience is also treated to a comprehensive look at Waterloo Station where a key scene was staged amid thousands of commuters and holidaymakers en-route to Europe. Jed and his partner Cheryl (Victoria Hamilton) are in couple-counselling after Jed proposes and to his astonishment, Cheryl says ‘no.’ Some of these scenes are very funny and will be recognised by many. As a backdrop for the others to play off, the therapist spends long moments saying nothing, to the mutual frustration of Jed and the audience. To prepare for this important interview, Jed spends hours watching Grimandi’s films. At the same time, his personal life is overtaken by a series of crises involving his girlfriend, his best mate Marcus (Douglas Henshall), and his girlfriend Sophie (Anne-Marie Duff). These are not crises of money, confidence, or any other modern ailment, but of old-fashioned love. As Jed discovers that the message of Grimandi’s films is that love is the most important thing in life, the only thing that matters, the one thing that we must find - at all costs, he realises that life is definitely imitating art. Performances are great from the whole cast; the four main actors are a pleasure to watch. All are utterly convincing – this is by the fact that they are not beautiful, ugly, outrageous or odd" just utterly ordinarily human. The score also lifts the film, in a comfortable unobtrusive way with French songs such as ‘Chan Son d’amour’ and some Louis Armstrong classics including ‘A Kiss to Build a Dream on.’ Clever editing makes fun of French films at the same time as showing an appreciation of them. For example, as Jed walks along the Thames he sees sights usually cinematically associated with the Seine - a kissing couple, old people holding hands, mothers with babies, more kissing couples. And while he constantly ridicules those endlessly long European close-ups of eyes, lips, etc, director Jackie Oudney treats us to some lingering examples of the same. In a very funny restaurant scene, Jed and Sophie are made lyrical by some ice cream that sends them both into ecstasy – in close up. In French Film everyone changes partners for the better ultimately through being honest about their feelings. The negative effects of deception are illuminated in-your-face" this works beautifully with the rest of the film. The long-awaited interview which takes place toward the end of the film is not so much a climax as a revelation. This is an enjoyable film with some great humour and an overall sense of fun that lightens the more serious side of the story. French Film Joondalup Pines, ECU, Joondalup WA 9-15 March, 8.30pm

Patricia Johnson

Wednesday 4 March, 2009

About the author

Patricia Johnson has a long standing interest in the arts and holds a Diploma in Creative Writing from Curtin University. Patricia has had several poems and short stories published. Currently she is also a reviewer for ArtsHub Australia.