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Film Movement: French Language Films [12 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Eldorado
Two unlikely characters are brought together under equally unlikely circumstances in this eccentric road comedy from Belgian auteur Bouli Lanners. Yvan (Lanners) is an auto salesman who makes a good living dealing in American luxury cars. One evening, Yvan comes home to discover a burglar has made his way into his home, and a quick search reveals the criminal, Elie (Fabrice Adde), is hiding under his bed. Elie claims to have a weapon, but Yvan is convinced he's bluffing, and when the thief finally emerges he turns out to be a junkie who is feeling the first stages of withdrawal. Yvan feels more pity than anger toward Elie, and when he discovers the would-be criminal doesn't have enough money to get home, Yvan offers to give Elie a lift to his parents' house. However, Yvan's car breaks down en route, and the Good Samaritan who helps him fix it insists on having a few drinks with Yvan and Elie, leaving Yvan intoxicated and sleepy. When Yvan drifts off while driving, he ends up wrecking his car, and he and Elie are soon at the mercy of a two strangers in a camper. Eldorado was screened as pat of the Directors' Fortnight series at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Inch'Allah Dimanche
Set in 1974, when the French government decided to allow the families of Algerian men working in France to legally emigrate to join them, Inch'Allah Dimanche tells the story of one such family. Upon arriving in France with her three children, Zouina (Fejra Deliba), is sent off to live in a house that her husband has rented for them. Unfortunately, she quickly realizes that her husband has no intention of allowing her to see the country as it exists outside of the house, and is prohibited from leaving. Without friends and family and constantly under the surveillance of her domineering mother-in-law, Zouina finds her only source of relief is Sunday -- the film's title translates to "Thank God for Sunday!" -- when her husband takes his mother out for the day and Zouina and the children are able to explore the outside world. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi

Aaltra
Two irascible farmers find their bitter rivalry taking on epic tones in this pitch black comedy starring, written, and directed by Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern. They may spend their days toiling the land, but these two tillers of the soil are far from humble. When their ongoing feud escalates into all out war and both men wind up paralyzed by a tractor, they soon opt to focus their rage not on each other, but on the manufacturer of the machine. Now, as the former enemies make their way to Helsinki in order to exact their revenge, the stage is set for a hilarious confrontation. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Welcome
A young Kurdish refugee finds friendship from an unlikely source in Welcome, writer-director Philippe Lioret's dramatic chronicle of intersecting lives. The tale unfurls in Calais, a seaside community in the north of France where one can glimpse the white cliffs of Dover, England with the naked eye. Vincent Lindon stars as Simon, a local swimming instructor privately reeling in turmoil because he dreads an imminent divorce from his wife (Audrey Dana). Soon, his path unexpectedly criss-crosses with that of Bilal (Firat Ayverdi), a 17-year-old Kurdish refugee with two aspirations: swim the English Channel, and join his girlfriend in England following a lengthy separation. Despite their differing ages, the two men discover that they have a fair amount in common, and soon forge a tight bond marked by similar goals. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

Familia
The influence of genetics and the ability to identify oneself as a separate entity from family lineage lies at the heart of award-winning short-filmmaker Louise Archambault's slice of life drama concerning a nomadic mother and her teenage daughter. Affectionately known as Mimi by her friends, Michèle (Sylvie Moreau) is an aerobics instructor with a nasty gambling habit. When Mimi's boyfriend discovers that she has gone back on her promise to avoid the gaming table, his threat to freeze her finances drives the free-spirited mother to collect her daughter Marguerite (Mylene St. Sauveur) and hit the road on the sly -- again. A brief but revealing stop at the home of Mimi's youthful mother reveals the source of Mimi's impulsive nature, and after a friendly visit, Mimi and Marguerite seek refuge at the home of Mimi's childhood friend Janine (Macha Grenon). Reluctantly allowing the wayward pair into her suburban heaven so that they may get back on their feet, Mimi and Janine attempt to improve their parenting skills and serve as positive examples for their teenage daughters before an inherent difference in value systems leads to elevating tensions. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Viva Laldjérie
A women living in a city that is slowly being transformed by Muslim activists takes a small stand for the glories of decadence in this comedy drama. Mrs. Sandjak (Biyouna) is a flamboyant and headstrong woman living in Algiers who, in her younger days, earned a living as an exotic dancer known as "Papicha." As Muslim fundamentalists begin taking a greater measure of control over the city, the decidedly non-fundamentalist Papicha finds herself living in a run-down hotel with her daughter, Goucem (Lubna Azabal). Goucem is an attractive twentysomething who works in a photo shop, and has been having an affair with a doctor (Lounes Tazairt), though to her chagrin he seems little inclined to leave his wife for her. Mrs. Sandjak has found a kindred spirit in her next-door neighbor Fifi (Nadia Kaci), a cheerful prostitute who sees no shame in her profession, and the former dancer makes friends with Tiziri (Lynda Harchaoui), a young girl who likes Papicha's brash style and wants to learn how to dance. One day, Mrs. Sandjak receives word that a celebrated nightclub where she once performed is being turned into a mosque; saddened and enraged that the city she knew is changing, she decides to find a venue that will still allow her to dance as she sets out to resume her career. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Raja
Raja (Najat Benssallem) is a 19-year-old Moroccan girl. An orphan, she's led a difficult life, but has gotten off the streets and lives with her cousin Nadira (Ilham Abdelwahad) and her family. Raja and Nadira are happy to get low-paying jobs working in the garden of a wealthy middle-aged Frenchman, Fred (Pascal Greggory). Fred is immediately attracted to the new girl and the other girls tease Raja about his interest, encouraging her to go after his money. Fred discusses his growing infatuation with his two elderly cooks, Oum El Aid (Oum El Aid Ait Youss) and Zineb (Zineb Ouchita), who try to discourage his interest. Because they don't speak the same language, Fred and Raja often have to rely on others to translate as they dance around each other. Fred hires Raja to be his maid, and flirts shamelessly with her. She's intrigued, and desperate to change her life, but she keeps him at a distance, uncertain of the seriousness of his interest. Raja has a boyfriend, Youssef (Hassan Khissal), who resents her relationship with the Frenchman; in addition, her brother (Abdelilah Lamrani), who pimped her out as a girl, still tries to control her life, taking a share of the money she earns. He plans for her to marry a policeman he knows. Fred struggles with his emotions. They obviously feel something for each other, but the cultural and economic differences between them may be too immense to overcome. Raja, written and directed by Jacques Doillon (Ponette), was shown at the 2003 New York Film Festival. Benssallem won the Marcello Mastroianni Award (for best first performance) at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi

Her Name Is Sabine
The disheartening failure of specialized institutions and the irreparably damaging effect that they can have on the ailing patients that they purport to help are highlighted in actress-turned-filmmaker Sandrine Bonnaire's intimate portrait of her autistic sister Sabine. Sabine Bonnaire is a thirty-eight year old woman who has struggled with autism since childhood. Despite her mysterious and increasingly common disorder, however, it was an inadequate health care paradigm - not her lifelong affliction - that has wrecked the most devastating consequences on Sabine's life. A woman whose endearing personality, numerous talents, and remarkable potential for growth were tragically devastated by a five-year stay in an inadequate psychiatric hospital, Sabine was eventually able to stage a remarkable recovery thanks to the unwavering support of her family and friends. Featuring remarkable footage filmed over a twenty-five year period by Sabine's closest sister, Elle s'appelle Sabine presents the plight of the autistic from the unique perspective of two people who have lived and learned from the widely misunderstood disorder. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Dreams of Dust
With his deeply cathartic and intransigent drama Dreams of Dust, Laurent Salgues takes an unflinching look at life in a hellish African gold-mining community. For countless hours, days and weeks on end, the employees of a mining camp burrow long tunnels into the sand in search of increasingly elusive nuggets. When one is found, economic circumstances improve for all; when the tunnels collapse, the workers lose their lives, new teams are reeled in, and the process begins anew. Yet Salgues unveils a core of dignity at the story's center, personified by two characters - the Nigerian farmer Mocktar, still reeling from a personal tragedy, who nevertheless demonstrates astonishing tenacity by climbing into the scorching tunnels each morning; and his female counterpart, the gorgeous Coumba, also reeling from a disaster - the sudden, unexpected death of most of her family, and her consequent need to raise her daughter on her own. Amid a difficult, threatening environment, these two quickly find soulmates and a ray of hope in one another. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

Le Grand Voyage
A father/son road trip highlights the deep generational and cultural gaps between a modern young Arab preparing for his college entrance exams in France and his devoutly religious father who has demanded that his son drive him to Mecca in an intensely emotional drama from director Ismaël Ferroukhi. Réda (Nicolas Cazale) is determined to better himself by pursuing a higher education. When Réda's headstrong father arrives demanding that his son drive him to Mecca for a religious pilgrimage, the troubled young man's resentment towards grows more powerful than ever as a result of the elder's demand for respect for both himself and his journey. Now, as the reluctant pair wind their way from France to Saudi Arabia, the bond shared between them will be tested and their lives forever changed. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

The Grocer's Son
Quand Tu Descendras du Ciel director Eric Guirado follows up his feature filmmaking debut with this drama about a grocer's son who returns to the village where he was born in order to take over his father's business. Ten years ago, Antione (Nicolas Cazalé) left his family behind and moved to the big city. Now, after discovering that his father (Daniel Duval) has suffered a heart attack and that the family grocery store will soon be forced to shut down, Antoine heads back to the French mountain town at the behest of his brother François (Stéphan Guérin-Tillié). It seems that few folks save for his mother (Jeanne Goupil) are happy to see Antoine return, though the meandering 30-year-old has brought city friend Claire (Clotilde Hesme) along to keep him company during his stay in the country. Though it remains to be seen whether Antoine and Claire will ever become anything more than friends, the free-spirited sprite is more than happy to help out when it comes to making the rounds with the mobile store that services the local villages. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

1981
A move to a new neighborhood prompts an 11 year old to engage in an elaborate charade in order to fit in with his new classmates. The year is 1981. Young Ricardo's family is struggling financially, while the kids at his new school come from more prominent backgrounds. When Ricardo starts pretending he's something that he's not, he discovers that living a lie has its fair share of pitfalls. When his façade begins to crumble, he must weigh the consequences of telling the truth against the effort it takes to maintain his carefully crafted ruse. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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