French finesse

Fri, Nov 18, 2011, 00:00

THEY INVENTED it. They perfected it. This year’s IFI French Film Festival is already in full swing, offering the usual sterling line-up of contenders from Cannes and Venice, glamorous Gallic visitors and classics from the past. Here are the essential picks, writes TARA BRADY

The Kid with a Bike/Le Gamin au VéloAbandoned by his deadbeat dad and robbed of his bicycle, a lonely kid strikes up a friendship with a kindly hairdresser in the Dardenne Brothers’ almost feel-good new movie.

Service Entrance/Les Femmes du 6ème ÉtageA housefrau should perhaps have thought twice before demanding that her stockbroker husband employ a fashionable Spanish maid for their Parisian home. Upstairs-downstairs farce with Sandrine Kiberlain.

The Minister/L’Exercice de L’ÉtatIn the wake of a tragic bus accident, the Minister for Transport struggles with political machinations and cynical manoeuvres toward privatisation. Just watch out for the alligator.

Zéro de Conduite and L’AtalanteDead at 29, with less than three hours of film in the can, French cinema’s poète maudit, Jean Vigo, bequeathed these two wildly influential, anarchic films, presented here to mark the 60th anniversary of the Prix Jean Vigo.

Lights Out/Simon Werner a Disparu...Early 1990s high school students mysteriously disappear to the strains of Sonic Youth’s score in Fabrice Gobert’s hotly anticipated debut feature.

I’m Glad My Mother Is Alive/ Je suis Heureux que Ma Mère Soit VivanteA troubled young man has an uneasy reunion with his birth mother in this 2009 drama from special festival guest Claude Miller and son Nathan.

Early One Morning/De Bon MatinFestival guest and veteran actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin plays a banker who arrives at work one morning, shoots two of his bosses, then locks himself in his office for a stand-off with police. Pourquoi?

Beloved/Les Biens-AimésCatherine Deneuve plays the mother of Chiara Mastroianni in Christophe Honoré’s musical Beloved, her second appearance on the festival programme after His Mother’s Eyes. Can’t have a French Film Festival without her.

Outside Satan/Hors SatanA nomad and his female teenage companion encounter the supernatural in Bruno Dumont’s singular biblical riff.

Once Upon a Time . . . a Clockwork Orange/Il Était une Fois . . . Orange MécaniqueCritic, documentarian and festival guest Michel Ciment explores the making of Stanley Kubrick’s most controversial work and the director’s subsequent decision to withdraw the film from circulation.


The French Film Festival runs at the IFI, Dublin, until November 27th. See irishfilm.ie