By Sean Boelman
Throughout the year, Film at Lincoln Center offers several festival programs highlighting specific aspects of world cinema to pique the interest of cinephiles. Their Rendez-Vous With French Cinema program showcases some of the most exciting French features to have played on the festival circuit in the past year, from voices both acclaimed and up-and-coming.
One of the higher profile films screening in this year’s lineup is Between Two Worlds, which debuted at last year’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. Based on Florence Aubenas’s semi-autobiographical work, the movie is a sharp commentary on class issues in France. But it is veteran actress Juliette Bincoche’s performance that is the main draw of this film, and she delivers work here that is as extraordinary as always.
Another star-driven movie to see is Constance Meyer’s Robust. In the film, Gérard Depardieu plays an aging film star who forms an unexpected friendship with his bodyguard (Déborah Lukumuena). As a whole, the film is solid, but it is the extraordinarily humane chemistry between Depardieu and Lukumuena that makes this something special.
Debuting at Cannes to a divisive reception, Arnaud Desplechin’s steamy romance Deception is one of the more complex films to screen at the festival. It’s always tricky to adapt Philip Roth’s works to the screen, and there are a few points in which this misses the mark, but there are more than enough interesting questions posed here for it to work. And with strong performances from Denis Podalydés and Léa Seydoux, it’s at least intriguing.
Rachel Lang’s Our Men is the type of movie made with such a noble intent that it’s hard to dislike. Exploring the lives of a series of individuals who are connected to the French Foreign Legion, the portions of this film about the actual servicemen are solid, but those about their families are extraordinarily compassionate. It’s a tad sentimental, but it’s a crowd-pleaser first and foremost.
For the music lovers, Rendez-Vous offers two great options: Magnetic Beats and Authentik. The former follows a kid who is called up for service, finding an unexpected opportunity to pursue his love of being a radio disc jockey. It’s a conventional film at times, but a well-made one at that. Authentik is a biopic about the formation of rap group Supreme NTM, and while it may not be as unconventional as the artists deserve, it’s a very fun time.
Those who are looking for something a bit more edgy may want to check out Bruno Reidal: Confessions of a Murderer. A tremendously bleak film with brutal violence and graphic sexuality, this definitely won’t be for everyone, but those who are able to dial into its tragic wavelength will find themselves tremendously moved. It’s a complicated film that somehow manages to be both ambiguous and unsubtle, allowing it to be perplexing in all the right ways.
Embrace your inner Francophile and check out some cinema at this year’s Rendez-Vous With French Cinema. The festival lineup has several great flicks, from high-profile films screening before their full release in the US to new discoveries you may not have seen otherwise. And with such a wide span of genres, there is something to satisfy everyone.
The 2022 edition of Rendez-Vous With French Cinema runs March 3-13.
The Snake Hole
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