Archive for the ‘ Film Festivals ’ Category

Hand in Hand (Main dans la main)

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Hand in Hand (Main dans la main)
Release date: French Film Festival 2013, Mumbai
Directed by:  Valérie Donzelli
Cast: Valérie Lemercier, Jérémie Elkaïm, Béatrice de Staël, Valérie Donzelli, Sébastien Noiré, Serge Bozon, Philippe Laudenbach, Lyn Thibault

Valérie Donzelli presents a lively dramedy where she tries to establish an epic relationship of sorts between its protagonists with a backdrop of dance. It’s love at first kiss and the eventual revival of the lost fizz of the lead couple’s dynamic.

The screenplay may be basic with the crisis in it, but the basis and and approach of the plot is vividly fresh. A glass artist by profession, Joachim Fox (Jérémie Elkaïm) starts his introduction by skateboarding through the streets of Commercy. He lives with his sister Vero (Valérie Donzelli) and her husband JF (Sébastien Noiré) at her crowded house. She’s about to contest at ballroom dance competition in Monaco with her depressed neighbour Jean-Pierre (Serge Bozon) and the siblings’ relationship is a much cherished one.

On the other hand, Hélène Marchal (Valérie Lemercier) is an aging head instructor at the Ecole de Danse of the Paris Opéra, but she’s pledged to never dance on stage because she doesn’t like to be seen. She is the senior minister’s (Philippe Laudenbach) favorite and is accompanied by Constance de La Porte (Béatrice de Staël) 24 by 7. Fox is on a job in the same building and a weird kiss gives birth to a very weird affair between him and Hélène. The connect between them is so strong that they simply cannot stop being with each other.

The affinity, rather joint-at-the-hip syndrome between the protagonists, as hard it is to be believed on paper, forms the most entertaining part of the film. The chemistry builds and there is no separating the two. Constance and Vero, who have been by the duo’s respective sides for so long, find it difficult to adjust to this. The subplots eventually lead to the temporary problem in paradise.

From that point, the film starts to drown. The reason for Joachim’s frustration is not defined and there’s no answers because the supporting cast then decides to subside so that the lead pair gets together. As much as the film’s narrative tries to conquer the tough task of convincing the viewers of the strange connection, the inherent flaws cancel out the great performances by the actors.

Sébastien Buchmann’s cinematography is strikingly beautiful and realistically natural simultaneously. Be it Paris, New York or the suburbs, the imagery is brilliant. The editing is to be blamed for majorly spoiling the film, along with the shoddy writing in the latter half. Hand in Hand (Main dans la main) could have been much more, but it stops itself of attaining the depth for that.

No rating

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Zarafa

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Zarafa (animated)
Release date: French Film Festival 2013, Mumbai
Directed by: Rémi Bezançon and Jean-Christophe Lie
Cast: Vernon Dobtcheff, Max Renaudin, Thierry Frémont, Simon Abkarian, Clara Quilichini, Francois-Xavier Demaison, Ronit Elkabetz, Roger Dumas, Mohamed Fellag

Zarafa is a dark fairytale, and it creates the said antithesis in a poised manner. It’s a children’s film and it manages to deliver the social background of the story’s life in the Nineteenth Century.  Not resorting to mind-numbing 3D, the makers create a pleasing yet sketchy animation.

Maki (voiced by Max Renaudin) is a Sudanese boy captured by the evil French slave trader-cum-hunter Moreno (Thierry Frémont) He’s trapped with Soula (Clara Quilichini) at Moreno’s ‘boot camp’, he manages to escape and on the run, Maki befriends a giraffe. The giraffe’s mother is killed by Moreno and the latter promises the younger herbivore’s mother that he will take care of her.

Hassan (Simon Akbarian) saves Maki from being recaptured and fends off Moreno. He accosts Maki and they name the young giraffe as Zarafa (Arabic for ‘giraffe’) They travel the deserts and this is where Hassan imparts the lesson of “looking to the stars whenever you’re lost in a desert or sea”. On reaching Alexandria, we get to know that Hassan was on a mission to find a giraffe so that the Egyptians can provide the strong French with a gift in lieu of their help to fight off the attacking Turks.

Bad things happen, and we get to see a satirical take on the racial fascinations of the French, in form of King Charles X (Roger Dumas) and his three queens. Along the course of the 78 minute long film, there’s betrayal, redemption, longing, joy and the plain satisfaction of a ‘happy ending’. The fringe characters like, Baboulina (Ronit Elkabetz), the female pirate or the sole white ‘positive’ accomplice-adventurer Malatere (Francois-Xavier Demaison) or even the outspoken trader Mahmoud (Mohamed Fellag) and his twin cows Mounh and Sounh offer more depth and help to connect the loose ends.

Zarafa is fun for kids and insightfully entertaining for the adults. I’m not going with ratings here since it’s futile to rate a film that released over a year ago, but I’d put it as a watchable experience.

No rating

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