(March 2nd - March 13th, 2011)
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Potiche, the Opening Night Film, stars Catherine Denueve as Suzanne Pujol, the trophy wife of Robert (Fabrice Luchini), who runs the Pujol umbrella company. He cheats on Suzanne and treats her with disrespect. When workers go on strike and Robert falls too ill to work, Suzanne takes over the company’s reign and brings the workers back from strike through negotiations. Gérard Depardieu plays Babin, a local mayor who had a steamy love affair with Suzanna years ago. Writer/director François Ozon combines comedy and drama with such a light touch that the film often has an uncanny, offbeat charm that takes getting used to at first. Each cast member adds his or her own charm. Denueve hasn’t been more radiant since Ozon’s 8 Women---she has genuine joie de vivre. Her scene with Depardieu are quite captivating because they’re both such terrific actors. Although the film as few laugh-out-loud moments, it’s still very amusing, heartfelt and even a bit uplifting. Music Box Films opens Potiche limited on March 25th, 2011.
Catherine Denueve has a small role in The Big Picture as the politician mother of Paul (Romain Duris), a husband who accidentally kills the lover of his beloved wife, Sarah (Marina Foïs). Paul feigns his own death in order to safely flee from Paris, and settles into a new life in a small town. What transpires after he begins his new life won't be spoiled here, but, it's worth stating that the screenplay by writer/director Eric Lartigau maintains some suspense until that point. The plot holes pile up so fast after that point that the suspense quickly wanes. That's too bad because it's been a while since there's been an intelligent gripping thriller in the vein Tell No One. Moreover, a different actor should have been cast in the lead instead of Romain Duris because he fails to exhibit a sense of paranoia convincingly; he fits much better in the romantic comedy/drama genre. No distributor, yet.
In director Alain Corneau's Love Crime, Ludivine Sagnier stars as Isabelle Guérin, a young executive in a multinational company. She endures a tough-as-nails boss, Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas), every day of the week. When Christine goes to the extent of taking credit for an idea that Isabelle comes up with, Isabelle exacts revenge on her. The plot has its fair share of twists and suspense especially as you're trying to figure out why Isabelle behaves so stupidly when the police detectives interrogate her. Kristin Scott Thomas' convincingly icy performance as well as Sagnier's charisma will help to keep you engaged, but the real guilty please here occurs whenever Christine and Isabelle play off of one another. IFC Films opens Love Crime limited on July 1st, 2011.
The Princess of Montpensier
In France 1562, during the religious war between the Protestants and Catholics, Marie de Mézières (Mélanie Thierry), an aristocrat, truly loves Henri de Guise (Gaspard Ulliel), her cousin and friend since childhood. However, her father, Marquis of Mézières (Philippe Magnan) promises the Duke of Montpensier (Michel Vuillermoz) that the Philippe (Grégoire Leprince Ringuet), the Prince of Montpensier, will marry her. She becomes his wife while secretly seeing Henri de Guise on the side. Concurrently, the Count of Chabannes (Lambert Wilson) falls in love with Marie when he looks after her while Philippe fights away in battle. The Duke eventually marries Catherine (Judith Chemla), Henri’s younger sister who’s now Marie’s mother-in-law which only complicated matters.
Despite a few rousing action scenes of swashbuckling, there’s really not that much to keep you truly captivated here. The romantic elements of the plot feel contrived mostly because Mélanie Thierry gives a bland performance. She lacks the requisite charisma to carry the film as a leading lady which, in turn, leads to a lack of chemistry between Marie and Henri. Whenever she’s with Philippe or the Count of Chabannes instead of Henri, you won’t feel any kind of heartbreak or shed any tears that you might have done if there were indeed chemistry to found. On a purely aesthetic level, the film looks appropriate to its time period thanks to director/co-writer Bertrand Tavernier’s exquisite use of set designs, lighting and costumes which certainly help to add much-needed layers of richness and authenticity to the film. At an excessive running time of 2 hours and 20 minutes, The Princess of Montpensier is fleetingly rousing with impressive production values. It’s often lackadaisical and contrived with a bland performance by the beautiful, but uncharismatic Mélanie Thierry.