A feast for cinephiles

One of the things we like most of all about France and the French is their enduring love affair with cinema. The beauty of life In Quillan (and one of our criteria for a place to live) was the local cinema just 2 minutes’ walk from home. We were there as often as we could make it and promised ourselves we’d continue with this tradition back in Wellington.  So when the annual French film festival rolls around, it’s an easy excuse to indulge.


It was this time a year ago that we booked ourselves seats at several festival films pre-French life under the guise of ‘language training’ and ‘research’. It seems like yesterday. This year it’s the turn of friends of ours who are off for a similar sojourn. Not that I need an excuse but of course I’m always happy to accompany.

It’s always a bit of a risk whether the films you book turn out as you expect. This year’s selection is so far outstanding, which is just as well since over the weekend I sat through three in 24 hours.

I was worried that 3 Coeurs might be a bit cheesy. Quite the opposite. It was not only an affecting story beautifully conceived, but also beautifully paced, with a great score – and an ending that didn’t leave you wondering, just reflecting. And then there were the scenes of Paris, and of the back streets of the country town in which the film was set, reminiscent of every French town you’ve ever visited. Recommended.

I suspected that La Nouvelle Amie was going to be a touch kooky – and indeed it was. But very amusingly so and when it comes to it, I will pay to see Romain Duris in a dress any day. What a performance. Quite exceptional. He looked like he was absolutely loving the role and he totally pulled it off. Spoiler alert!

Le Petit Nicolas en Vacances was, as anticipated, a great laugh. It had been on in Quillan the week we left, so we didn’t quite make it. I’m not sure how much of the French the boys followed as opposed to reading the subtitles but in any case they appreciated the touch of slapstick as all boys do at that age. It was a great pity that the large Embassy Theatre was not fuller.

Finally, Stephen and I went to see the Israeli-French La Dune last night. It was extremely well done in that the enticing blurb nevertheless gave you no clue of the eventual twist. Even as the story unfolded the audience was cleverly diverted from the real connection until well into the film. A wee gem.

Now I have to wait a week until the final film: La Famille Belier, which promises to be excellent.

But somehow, despite this feast of film, I know I will be left wanting. There is no shortage of films to see and no shortage of intelligent, amusing people to see them with. But somehow we (or more specifically I) fail to capture the true experience of French cinema – the ability to spend more time discussing the movie afterwards than you have watching it,

3 thoughts on “A feast for cinephiles

  1. margaret21

    We liked going to the cinema in France too. But our experience was different. Both our local cinemas were controlled by the council, were comfortable and well-appointed, with all the latest films. But we often found ourselves in an audience of no more than 5 or 6. So those post-viewing discussion sessions just didn’t take place. It’s good that it’s pretty easy these days to catch up with French cinema in the UK too, isn’t it?

  2. Jennifer Andrewes Post author

    Yes, that was our experience in Quillan a lot of the time too. Excellent wee cinema but staffed by what might well have been volunteers, and very often the audience did not reach the required four for the session to go ahead. It can’t be economic, but it’s a great service that I hope they keep up. Once we thought we missed out, left the cinema after it was due to start, only to pass two people in the street who looked like they were heading to the cinema… back we went, minimum number met, cue film! Ah, small town life. We are fortunate to have friends whose livelihoods are in the cinema business, so when visiting France have access to astute conversation – and French film festivals even make it to New Zealand 😉


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