Three French Film Festival Favorites (BURNING GHOST, WONDERS IN THE SUBURBS, and THE BARE NECESSITY) Streaming on Virtual Cinema
Review by Sarah Williams
Kino Marquee is set to release a collection of three French films that have been fan favorites at recent film festivals, yet had yet to receive mass acclaim in the United States. Some of these have appeared on Mubi, or Kanopy, but are available now to support arthouse streaming services. Here’s what I thought of them, and this format certainly works well to curate the foreign market. (Seriously, when are we getting a triple feature of Losing It, Heroes Don’t Die, and Real Love as a second part to this?!)
Burning Ghost is a transcendent small production, a fainter echo of the intimate awe inspired by Mati Diop's Atlantics last year. Judith Chemla has a haunting gaze, her pale, wanting look alone leaves her ghostly in the lens of Céline Bozon's adept camerawork. Funny enough, she isn't a ghost, but Juste (Thimotée Robart) is. She is from his past life, and recognizes him as he has come to walk the earth again. He is a collector, taking memories off of those on the streets to help them move on, and hardly knows where he recognizes the souls from. The film is beautifully shot, lighting making city streets out to be an eerie afterlife, and the intimate sequences are particularly beautiful. Reds and oranges come out at night against bright blues, burning with colors of a flame, with blue that feels hot instead of the cool or serene hues it so often is relegated to. The end result is tender, yearning, and a pleasant surprise.
Burning Ghost is now streaming online in partnership with indie theaters. A list of participating locations can be found here.
Wonders in the Suburbs
Wonders in the Suburbs is a comedy of eccentrics, but the eccentricity falls flat into dry satire and joyless quirk. A supposed satire of French municipal politics directed by actress Jeanne Balibar, and produced by actor Matthew Amalric, it's embarrassing to see this running on autopilot "comedy" from actors with the privilege to try their hand behind the camera seemingly without any passion for the craft. It feels overbaked, a slew of French stars turning up, only for it to be utter nonsense (and an absolute waste of Bulle Ogier in the furthest thing from Rivettian comedy it could be). It’s unfortunate that this comes from genuinely talented people, some of the most passionate left wing faces in French cinema, but it’s a screaming, unfunny disaster. Emmanuelle Beart is a sad letdown, at the core of some of the many cringe inducing moments. It would be nice to pride the film for its diversity, but it’s too hollow, unfunny, and pointlessly quirky for this praise. Chaotic neo-liberal utopia would be entertaining to explore, but nothing lands, and it can’t help but seem like this wasn’t just lost in translation.
Wonders in the Suburbs is now streaming online in partnership with indie theaters. A list of participating locations can be found here.
The Bare Necessity
The one issue with The Bare Necessity is that it often feels like a script perfected on paper, but never tried in reality. Other than some awkwardness, it’s heartfelt, witty, and well-defined to its own little world. Swann Arlaud and Maud Wyler shine in a story of how easily our lives can change when someone enters or leaves it. Often deadpan, it is the story of a person as a meteor, given the chance to crash into the lives of a tight-knit community, and open eyes. The film finds its feet when pride is stripped down, personality flaws ripped apart to reveal a new, humbler man, as everyone watches. When the film is clever, it's very clever, and the weak first act, and its plot contrivances, are saved by great performances, and qualified camerawork. The adapt cinematographer shows nature wonderfully, a pale, serene delight for the landscape to stretch out into.
The Bare Necessity is now streaming online in partnership with indie theaters. A list of participating locations can be found here.