At the moment I know of five friends travelling in France. Not together, not in the same place nor for the same amount of time. Each is there to experience the country yet for different reasons: a few weeks lazing in a Paris apartment; bunkering down for some live-in-learning; and, even some agricultural volunteering. As they upload photos or email me their travelogues, each of mes amies are letting me see new facets to the great French Republican countryside.
I think this is possibly why in the last few days, I have indulged in a bit of ‘Francophilism’ of my own. The last two have been French fillums: Rust & Bone, and Camille Rewinds. Both movies explore love, regret and renewal, but each takes a very different approach when telling its story.
Rust & Bone
Director Jacques Audiard has followed on from his compelling 2009 prison drama A Prophet, with a love story of brutal tenderness —Rust & Bone (2012). The story is adapted from a collection of short stories by the Canadian author Craig Davidson, and the title refers to the taste in your mouth that you get after taking a hard punch.
In Audiard’s film, Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a man who has fallen on hard times and is trying to survive with his young son Sam (Armand Verdure) in tow. He relocates to Antibes on the French Riviera to live with his estranged sister Anna (Corinne Masiero) and her partner in a cramped apartment in the less glamorous parts of Antibes.
Ali gets work as a nightclub bouncer where one night, he meets Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard), assisting her home to witness an obviously unhappy relationship. Stéphanie trains killer whales at the local Aquarium, performing alongside cheerleaders, Mexican-waving crowds and blaring Katy Perry music. She is more at ease in the presence of the Orcas than with her boyfriend.
Ali looks to reestablish his boxing and martial arts career, prioritising work and training over the care of Sam —often leaving his sister to take care of his son. After Stéphanie is injured in a tragic accident, she reconnects with Ali. He helps draw her out of a deep depression through his straightforward, sometimes brutal, but simple approach to life.
As they enter into an awkward yet tender courtship, the chemistry between the two leads is clearly evident on-screen. Flawed and physically imposing, Schoenaerts’s Ali has vulnerability about him that you can understand Stéphanie would be drawn towards. While Cotillard is emotionally powerful in the role of Stéphanie, a fiercely intelligent woman struggling to cope with her changed world.
Many scenes tugged at the tear ducts: the Orca emerging from the depths of the aquarium as Stéphanie waits by the window, and Sam floating under water as Ali smashes his fists, splattering blood across the frozen ice.
Rust & Bone shows how life can be transformed and rediscovered though the explosive fireworks of love.
Written, directed by and starring Noémie Lvovsky, Camille Rewinds (2012) is a crowd-pleasing bittersweet rom-com described as the French equivalent of Peggy Sue Got Married (1986).
Camille (Lvovsky) is a whisky-guzzling 40-year-old Parisian still struggling to make a living as an actress. Reeling from her husband Eric’s (Samir Guesmi) announcement he is splitting after 25 years together to be with a younger woman, Camille ends up drowning her sorrows at a New Year’s Eve party in 2008 where she passes out and wakes up back in 1985. The clock has rewound twenty-five years. Camille is turning 16 again.
She is back in her family home where her parents are both still alive, back suffering high school with her three closest friends, and back listening to a steady stream of ’80s pop on her yellow Sports Walkman.
At first believing it is all a dream, Camille relishes the opportunity to be back with her beloved parents (Yolande Moreau and Michel Vuillermoz). Camille starts to record their conversations, following them around, eager to capture their voices on tape. Their relationship is strong and the rewind tinged with sadness, as 40-year-old Camille knows exactly when this intimacy will be over.
Equally aware of Eric’s betrayal in 2008, Camille is determined not fall in love with him again. However Eric’s passion for her only grows with every rejection —his smooth dance moves to Banarama at a party eventually wearing her down.
While everyone around them views Camille and Eric as 16 year olds, they are not subject to any special effects for ageing. Instead their joyful, spirited performances (and ‘80s wardrobe) convince us that they are teenagers.
Camille repeats the choices of the past after eventually realising that she can’t run away from her fate. This light, fun time-travelling comedy shows that while some life choices can change, others can also be accepted. Go and see Camille Rewinds —you’ll come out walking on your own little piece of sunshine.
Anything that has coffee and a topping of nuts is fine by me. A few chomps into the ice cream I discovered chocolate-coated coffee beans sunk within the smooth, coffee flavoured ice cream. Hurrah for a crunchy wafer cone that didn’t fall apart before I finished eating.
I surprised myself with this choice, as I’m not generally a fan of berry in a choc top. But I was glad I broke free and tried this very tasty combination. Topped with a white chocolate bud, the chocolate coating was uneven and generous. As the ice cream rose to room temperature, the creamy, subtle cheesecake flavour became more evident, and blueberry seeds stuck to my teeth.
This review is part of my log of fillums and choc top fillings, Scene It.
And, yes you did read ’em, those pop song references