Venice Film Festival 2011 // Toutes Nos Envies

Curious Joe is at the Venice Film Festival. Check back here daily or follow us on Facebook for sporadic film reviews and discussions of the arty variety.

Directed by Philippe Lioret
Starring Marie Gillain, Vincent Lindon

It’s true that a lot of French films at the moment are beginning to revolve around similar plots. So whenever a film starts emphasising the possible tragedies that any 30-40 year old middle class French person might face, it’s important to focus on the finer points of the film, rather than its originality as a visual experience.

Toutes Nos Envies is one of those films where you can’t help but think what was going through the writer’s head when they came up with it. “Right, so I’ve got this idea. There’s like, a woman, who’s got cancer, and then she doesn’t tell anyone, and she’s a judge, right, and then the whole film is about her not telling anyone. People won’t know what’s hit them!”

It’s about as original as an Oscar winner, true, but the directing and, even more so, the acting is something quite incredible. Most character dramas, particularly the sadder ones, tend to do a good job of ignoring the aesthetics and tightening the nuts and bolts in the performances.

"This isn't a birthday party, it's an intervention. You need to take off the hat."

The relationship between Marie Gillain’s Claire (the lead protagonist) and her new found BFF Stephane (Lindon) is one of the closest, most heartbreaking you’ll see this year. And as always, it really does take some directing to pull this kind of a performance out of any actor, no matter how good they are.

The only problem I had with the performances were that at some points the writing just didn’t seem believable. The entire main ensemble was made up of nice, strong people doing their utmost to do nice things for other people. At no point were they shown to have any flaws, and never was it even referenced. Of course, I love the fact that a film has been made with the utmost of optimism in people, but even just some kind of polarising would’ve been invaluable in creating a more believable dynamic around the characters’ good will.

I should address the fact that, volume wise, this review features much more negative criticism than positive, so I should clarify that this is a fantastic film. There are flaws in the writing and the premise is like porn for environmentalists, but the personal nature of the various relationships and the way in which Claire’s illness is portrayed resulted in what I can only describe as hearing a silent cinema crying.

The biggest news since the last post however is the world premiere of Inni was last night, and it’s EVERYTHING you probably think it is. For me, I was expecting a visual collection of Sigur Ros over the years, and that’s exactly what it was, there’s not much more to it that words can really describe. And of course being heckled by the director of ‘Cafe De Flore’ on entering the cinema was quite a welcoming.

Tomorrow I’ll hopefully be writing about the Sarajevo Film Festival, which is fast emerging as a cultural hub of the world.

CJ out.

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  • Luiz Paulo  On 4 September at 20:27

    must pass in Brazil to draw my conclusions

  • Hamish  On 7 September at 08:18

    Hopefully it will get to Brazil. It’s a high quality film so it probably will.🙂

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