I Feel Good, Fortuna, The Wind Turns
In this edition of Cinefile, RFI's Rosslyn Hyams keeps us posted on films in French with a look at the bittersweet I Feel Good, and the beautiful, poetical Fortuna. And she speaks to leading French actor with loads of charm, Pierre Deladonchamp about his latest film, The Wind Turns. To listen to September's Cinefile, click on the arrow on the photo.
I feel good
Jean Dujardin (Jacques) and Yolande Moreau (Monique) play 40-50 year-old siblings whose lifestyle choices are so far apart. Jacques' first appearance is when he rolls up in a monogrammed white towelling bathrobe and slip-ons, walking along the motorway. Monique, is an almost overly-sympathetic worker with an out-of-the-way charity centre where objects are repaired and recycled like the people who have found shelter there.
The satirical writers and directors, Gustave Kervern et Benoît Delepine went to a real Emmaus 'village' for their film location to slam unbridled capitalism and draw attention to people who are so often invisible to most of us.
After failing to amass dizzying amounts of material wealth, Jacques lands up in his sister's world and, through contact with her and the other residents, he undergoes an extreme transformation. The transformation materialises thanks to the enthusiastic embrace of capitalist values in a former communist country.
Both serious and ironic, the film had entertainment value as well. However, the humour can be cumbersome at moments and could leave a nasty taste for some. But the film actually is the bearer of a crucial message.
Degrees of whackiness aside, Kervern says their film is "optimistic because it shows that capitalism has its limits, that money cannot be an end in itself."
Full of good heart and the potential to become a cult film from the directors of Mammuth (2010) starting Gérard Dépardieu. Failing cult-status, it will be remembered for the screen presence of non-actors at the Lescar-Pau Emmaus village.
Le Vent Tourne (The Wind Turns)
Environment, ecology are muddled with the meaning of personal freedom. Pauline (Mélanie Thierry) invests her energy in her family farm in the mountains. Her partner Alex (Pierre Delandonchamps), an urbanite, is as committed to the project, and like a convert, tires himself with zeal. The couple tires too.
The two add-on characters, the wandering engineer and the young Eastern European house-guest who lands up to improve her health, pale into insignficance in comparison with the force of Pauline and Alex.
Swiss director Bettina Oberli's achievements in this film lodge in some dramatic moments, such as the challenges facing farmers caught between politically correct 'green' practices and those handed down by previous generations
The theme is definintely a popular European one these days. Some are more tightly interwoven on the human vs. environment issue however, such UK director Clio Barnard's Dark River this year, and Hubert Charuel's big hit of 2017, Petit Paysan.
Fourteen-year-old Ethiopian orphan Fortuna, played by Kedist Siyum lands up in a monastery in the Alps and unfortunately becomes attached to a fellow countryman, Kabir, 12 years her elder. Veteran actor Bruno Ganz anchors the story, and adds to the dramatic force of the black and white feature with his expressions of doubts and a few certitudes about life and human beings, in his role as Father of the few monks whose spiritual lives are disrupted by the migrants who are waiting for the asylum process to save them.
Sounds and silences mark this film steeped in snow and isolated from the world until a police raid interrupts the quiet concerns of all. It's a sad story, made of sad beauty in snowy, yet firey black and grey and white.