(March 11th - March 21st, 2010)
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The Opening Night film selection, Farewell, centers around a true story from the 1980’s about an Russian KGB official, Sergei Gregoriev (Emir Kusturica), who hands over documents with information to an Pierre Froment (Guillaume Canet), an engineer. Little does Pierre know that these documents are actually top-secret and contain highly sensitive information that will set off a chain of events that puts their lives in danger and increasingly aggravates U.S. President Ronald Reagan (Fred Ward) who wants to put an end to the leak as fast as possible and to hunt down potential KGB moles within the CIA. Director/co-writer Christian Carion generates a modicum of intrigue from its intricate, politically-charged plot. The pace occasionally slows down and drags toward the middle, but the last third of the film is quite suspenseful and even a bit thrilling. Strong performances from Kusturica and Canet also help to keep you engaged and immersed, for the most part, into the story.
The Hedgehog stars Garance Le Guillermic as Paloma, an 11-year-old lonely, alienated girl who plans to end her life after the next 165 days. She documents are life during that time with her father’s video camera. Soon enough, she forms an unlikely bond with her apartment building’s concierge, Renée Michel (Josiane Balasko), a middle-aged woman who’s also a bit of an outsider just like her. It’s equally amusing and heartwarming to watch how their bond percolates into a friendship that highlights just how Paloma is so mature and wise beyond her years. You’ll find yourself forgetting that she’s merely 11-years-old. The terrific screenplay by writer/director Mona Achache, based on the novel by Muriel Barbery, blends comedy, drama, tragedy and even a bit of romance with a very light and somewhat whimsical touch. Sure, the issues of death, loneliness and suicide are quite heavy, but the film has so many clever turn of events, insights and some hilarious, witty scenes that will make you feel uplifted, moved and even, perhaps, inspired in an unadulterated and uncontrived way.
In Making Plans for Lena, Lena (Chiara Mastroianni) returns her parents countryside home with her two children where she hopes to have a relaxing vacation. Little does she know that she’s in for more than she bargained for. She meets her ex-husband, Nigel (Jean-Marc Barr), there along with her sister (Marina Foïs) who’s in a troubled marriage with her husband, José (Jean-Baptiste Fonc). Even when her former lover, Simon (Louis Garrel), shows up, she’s still in a forlorn state of mind that she can’t seem to get out of. Director/co-writer Christophe Honoré fails to flesh out the character of Lena interestingly enough so that she’d be worth caring about as a protagonist. The entire burden of the film rests on her and how she reacts to others, but during her interactions you’ll find her to be neurotic, jejune and annoying---on top of that, she needs some cheese with her all her whine. Honoré offers nothing surprising or truly insightful for that matter when it comes to his exploration of depression or mid-life crisis, so you’ll find yourself underwhelmed and wishing the dialogue were wiser and, most importantly, more engaging rather than so dull and forgettable.
The Thorn in the Heart
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