Louis Garrell’s ‘A Faithful Man’ (L’homme Fidele) is a French rom-com farce, and it’s very French. It’s set in Paris, and it’s funny in a weird way. The film starts with Marianne (Laetitia Casta) telling her lover Abel (Garrell) that she is pregnant, by another man’s baby, and that other man is their close friend Paul. I personally think this is horrid, but Garrell treats the matter with a light touch, and we see Abel go off his merry way. Then years later, we find out Paul has died, and Abel and Marianne resume their relationship. First of all, I would probably still be bitter and have my guard up but I guess the French are a little more flippant about these things, and we are now supposed to root for them to be together. But then, the child, Joseph, is one of those precocious childs who tells Abel that he thinks Marianne poisoned his father. So we have now a bit of murder mystery in the plot. That sounds like a lot of plot for a 75 minute film, but it’s all compact. I haven’t even mentioned Eve, Paul’s younger sister, who has been infatuated with Abel since she was a young kid – and honestly, all this zaniness kind of works. I found myself chuckling and smiling, and swooning over Garrell with his tousled hair and puppy dog eyes. As far as rom-coms go, this is sweet and skews more old-fashioned, but there’s a modern element to it. To me, it felt like I was in Paris eavesdropping on these gorgeous people’s lives, and sure – Paris in Summer? Delightful.
‘Godard Mon Amour,’ as a film, is pretty to look at, with an ode to Godard’s primary-colors theme as in ‘A Married Woman.’ But pretty only goes so far. Perhaps this film, directed by Michael Hazanavicius (of ‘the Artist’) is meant for people who know Godard and his films well, because a lot of times I am lost, when funny scenes are supposed to be funny I am not laughing. And even though Louis Garrell tries hard, there seems to be me no meat in the character of Jean Luc Godard here, and I knew not much more about him after the film ended. Yes, I know the film is not an exact biography, but more a slice of life representation of the years when he was married to Anne Wiazemsky, his second wife. But still, context might have helped me. I found myself thoroughly bored by the film and couldn’t wait for it to end.
I know French Director Arnaud Desplechin has a huge fan base, and his new film ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ cater to that. I am only finding this out because I absolutely loathed his new film ‘Ismael’s Ghost” and I just did not get why the film was garnering raves, even opening Cannes Film festival last year. Sure enough, a lot of what is in the film are nods to some of his earlier films and are ‘inside jokes’ of sorts. Obviously, I did not get most of them, as I don’t even know if I have even seen any of his other films. I can’t say I am an expert on French Cinema, as I only see what is accessible to us here in the States.
Needless to say, I thought ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ is a hot mess. Stories and characters weave in and out and ten minutes into the film, i was already exhausted by it. They say if a film doesn’t engage you after a certain number of time, then you will never get it. I never got this. I know that the director character here is supposed to mirror Desplechin, and I guess that metaphor works that way: there is too much going on here, as if ideas have exploded in his head, and I just don’t have the patience for it. The version I saw was the ‘Director’s Cut,’ which is the version longer than the one shown in Cannes. Perhaps I would like that version better, although some reviews have indicated that this ‘fuller’ version makes more sense. Well, it still did not make sense to me, and I really have no interest in finding out more.