Tag: Alliance Francaise French Film Festival

Film Review: Night Shift

A multi-dimensional exploration of the human condition

By Ross Larkin

Few nations are as adept at storytelling as the French, who consistently unearth the interesting in the everyday and find meaning in the unexpected. 

Night Shift (also known as Police) is one such example. At first glance, perhaps an unusual crime drama. On further inspection, however, a multi-dimensional exploration of the human condition, with virtually no reliance on the likes of gunfights, murder or explosions, often synonymous with such a genre.

Three police officers are saddled with transporting an illegal Tajikistani immigrant to the airport for deportation. En route, however, they learn of the man’s past and the conditions he was initially fleeing, and find themselves conflicted as to whether sending him back is morally acceptable. 

As one might expect from French arthouse tropes, the foundation is thoroughly established with much character development and emotional examination well before the arc of the story takes shape.

Knowing our three officers prior to their predicament, and understanding how and why they have such varying viewpoints on the subject become essential aspects to the success of the tension and conflict, as they come to loggerheads over the immigrant’s fate. 

Director Anne Fontaine avoids the temptation of excessive sentimentality and rather, allows her viewers to consider all sides and ultimately share in the conflicted perspectives. Even by the end, one isn’t quite sure how to feel, or what the full truth entailed, which are arguably the key ingredients to a satisfying and thought-provoking cinematic experience. 

Virginie Efira, Omar Sy and Gregory Gadebois play the three starkly different cops, combining subtle angst amidst moments of high-pressure strain with the utmost realism and poise. Likewise, Payman Maadi as the immigrant, conveys a world of emotion in very few words, only adding to the escalating tension. 

As one unexpected moment leads to the next, and no outcome seems off the table, Night Shift will undoubtedly have viewers in intense anticipation of the conclusion, the stakes all the higher due its naturalistic approach, believable context and very relevant and significant subject matter.

Night Shift is screening as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival at a variety of cinemas across Melbourne until the 31st of March. For tickets and session times go here: https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/ 

Photo courtesy of Studiocanal GmbH/Thibault Grabherr

Film Review: La Belle Epoque 

Hearteningly Humourous

by Joana Simmons

Revered French director François Truffaut once said: “The cinema is a perfect mix of truth and spectacle.” For the 31st Alliance Francaise French Film Festival (AF FFF) this year, this is proving true. The media night gave a rundown of a few of the 49 films in the program, highlighting that there are more socially charged themes, and the ever loved rom-coms are being given more of a farcical as well as meta, sci-fi twist. The feature for this evening was Nicolas Bedos’ La Belle Epoque, which received a seven minute standing ovation after the premier at Cannes Film Festival, and was an intriguing delight that had me on the warm and fuzzy edge of my seat from start to finish.

The film follows struggling cartoonist Victor (Daniel Auteuil, AF FFF19, Rémi, Nobody’s Boy), as his marriage, career and life is dissolving. His wife Marianne (Fanny Ardant, AF FFF16, Chic!) a psychoanalysis and lover of Freud who is as unhinged as her patients loathe him. As his life is unraveling, Victor meets Antione (Guillaume Canet, AF FFF19, Sink or Swim; and also starring in In the Name of the Land and directing We’ll End Up Together at this year’s Festival), the creative director of a company that recreates to the delightful detail any period in history for clients; whether it is to experience a time they wish they had been alive, or revisit a time and find redemption. Victor chooses to relive 1974, the time when he met Marianne. And so the film delightfully darts between the present day and the hazy 70’s, as through various ways, Victor finds meaning in this time, himself and his relationship.

The film is a splendid blend of cinematic suspension of disbelief, and the hilarity that is raw human existence, which was evident in the chuckles that hung over the audience. There is a complementary soundtrack in the classical and modern style, that suits both the ‘Frenchness’ of the film and the time periods. As viewers, we wish for the catharsis of time travel and resurgence of nostalgia, created by the delightful detail in the design and the way the plot weaves and follows the plight of the complex characters. 

La Belle Epoque is a whimsical and warm watch that offers lessons on love and life in equal measure.

Screening as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival at Palace Theatres and affiliate locations, in Melbourne from 11th March to 8th April. Details at http://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/