Tag Archives: French films

Seven Days

Surgeon Bruno Hamel (Claude Legault) is living a seemingly idyllic life until his young daughter is raped and murdered. Obsessed with vengeance, Bruno concocts a plot to kidnap, torture and execute the man responsible for the crime. Once his plan comes to fruition, he’ll turn himself in. Director Daniel Grou makes his feature-film debut with this thriller based on a novel by Patrick Senécal. Rémy Girard and Fanny Mallette co-star.

Brian
Rating: 6 out of 10
Warning: some minor spoilers!

If you think, based on the description above, that this is another Hostel it most definitely isn’t. The grief of loss is presented in a very real and palpable way that drew me in. The husband and wife (played brilliantly by Claude Legault and Fanny Mallette) are real people dealing with the most horrific thing that can happen to a human being, the loss of a child. It’s that sense of reality that drew me into the story. Who wouldn’t want revenge for the rape and murder of their child? Who wouldn’t want to make their attacker suffer unimaginably? Who hasn’t questioned whether imprisonment is “enough” for a crime of this magnitude?

So, for a film raising all of these interesting questions, why is it a lowly 6? I feel the story takes a lot of turns that made it too ridiculous that it started to lose me. For one, there’s a point where the father kidnaps the mother of a previous victim of the same killer who murdered his daughter. Why? He saw her in a TV interview talking about how she has forgotten about the killer. He finds it so offensive that he chloroforms her and takes her to the hidden cottage where the killer is being tortured so she can face him. All of this is done while there’s a massive manhunt for him going on. It really never needed to get that ridiculous. The more basic the story became, the better it was. Why take the doctor away from the confrontations with the murderer as well as his own demons? That also reminds me of another weakness of the story. The writer decided to have zero dialogue interaction between the father and the killer. I can understand the idea that he wouldn’t even want to speak with him but why deprive the audience of what could have been several interesting exchanges to further flesh out the characters?

On a positive note, newcomer director Daniel Grou has a terrific sense of pacing and his use of silence in the film is excellent. I love when filmmakers take the time to show us a story visually without music or dialogue to paint a story.

I must also note that the film is horribly violent and contains scenes of extended torture. It’s certainly not for the squeamish. In fact, I would bet most of you will not like or enjoy it. I don’t think that was the ever the intention. I took from it that if you were given a chance to make the punishment fit the crime, would you lose your soul in the process?

Rubber

Quentin Dupieux directs this inventive twist on low-rent revenge flicks, which follows a car tire named Robert that rolls through the desert Southwest using its strange psychic powers to blow up birds, bunnies, human beings and more. But when Robert spies a gorgeous woman motoring down the highway, he decides to follow her and take a chance on love. This gleefully over-the-top black comedy stars Cecelia Antoinette and Thomas F. Duffy.

Brian
Rating: 4 out of 10

I so badly wanted to love this movie. I saw the trailer for it and it seemed unbelievably quirky and weird enough to work. Unfortunately, the results are a mixed bag.

The tire actually has a personality in this film. It falls somewhere between curious and ill-tempered. In fact, I’ll go on record and admit that its “performance” in this film, through the handwork of solid special effects, is better than any acting I’ve ever seen out of Will Smith or Ashton Kutcher. Imagine if your entire career could be outdone by an inanimate object. In fact, Ashton Kutcher might actually qualify as an inanimate object, soooo…..anyway, I digress.

The film definitely works when the tire is rolling around and running into objects, people and animals. The tire either decides to see how it works or blow it up. I suppose that’s all you could really get from a homicidal tire. That’s really half the movie. The other half is this oddball concept that everything happening with the tire and everyone around it is a movie. There is then an “audience” that sits in the hills with binoculars and views the events unfold. Supposedly, all the people (minus the “audience”) are just actors putting on a show. This doesn’t work at all. It feels completely separate and diminishes any fun we’re having as we watch a tire roll around killing everything.

I’m not going to lie. I laughed my ass off at a few of the scenes. But, because of the 2nd part of the movie with the fake audience, it robs some of the humor. It’s a shame, too, because the killer tire concept is enough. Once you accept that, there was a lot for the tire to do and people to run into. How about it meets another tire and they go on the lamb together? How about the tire gets torn up and manages to get into a Goodyear store where he gets repaired? Or, how about it ends up at a NASCAR track where it teams up with all the other tires and starts killing the fans? You see, there was a lot you could have done with it. But, sometimes you can try to be too quirky…..

Amélie

When impish gamine Amélie (Audrey Tautou), who lives alone, finds a long-hidden trove of toys behind a baseboard in her apartment, she’s inspired to repatriate the items, an impulse of generosity that sparks more benevolent acts. A celebration of life and love, French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Oscar-nominated charmer stresses the importance of small wonders that surround us, if only we paused to look.

Matt
Rating: 7 out of 10

Amelie is a sweet natured film with a big heart. The main character, played so eloquently by Audrey Tautou, is the type of sweet-natured girl you can’t help but fall in love with.

It has a simple enough premise: Amelie finds an old box of heirlooms from 40 years ago inside the wall of her apartment. She decides to find the owner and return it to him. If she can succeed, she will try to become a professional do-gooder. Now, this works only because the world that director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has created is not the one we inhabit every day. It’s seen through the lens with exaggerated colors and dream-like sequences to create an adult fairy tale. Cynicism is an outcast here and hope springs eternal. Realistic? No way. But, do we really need reality in our films all the time? I like the idea of seeing the best of humanity, no matter how outrageous it may seem to some. Also, Amelie is not always an angelic do-gooder. There are some very funny moments where she gets back at different bullies she runs into in her life.

So, if I enjoyed the film, why am I giving it only a 7? Well, first off, anything 7 or higher is something I recommend. But, Amelie’s script is not as good as its visual style. Once Amelie starts being a “do-gooder” the script doesn’t know where to go. The situations where she starts to help people are less imaginative and it pushes towards a standard romantic comedy. By the end, Amelie gets what she wants and it appears her days of helping others falls by the wayside. It’s a shame. too. because it had such promise for the first 60 minutes.