Sticking and breaking with tradition. The crème de la crème of new French cinema.

The Apparition (2018)

The Apparition [is a] thoughtful and measured French film that tackles that most unfashionable of subjects – faith. Vincent Lindon, looking even less shaved and more sleep-deprived than usual, is Jacques Mayano, a journalist who’s struggling to get over the loss of a colleague in Syria when he receives a request from the Vatican. A teenage girl [Galatea Bellugi] in the French Alps has become a fawned-on celebrity after apparently experiencing a Marian vision. And what the well-heeled Cardinal he visits wants Jacques to find out is whether she’s a fake. […] Xavier Giannoli’s film moves slowly but with considerable power as it explores faith, doubt, mass hysteria and the desperate human need for supernatural reassurance. Paul Whitington, Irish Independent [The Apparition is a] film about the mysterious workings of divine grace, and things that can’t entirely be explained away. It is showily freighted with the music of Monteverdi, Arvo
Screenings

Custody (2017)

An almost unbearably-tense, no-holds-barred drive through the nightmare of domestic terrorism, Custody is a can’t-look-away hybrid of gruelling reality and heightened cinematic technique. The mix is jarring, as intended, and this wrenching, heart-stopping film illustrates domestic violence and obsession in a way that makes the fear real. Yet the director also cites The Shining and Kramer Vs. Kramer amongst his influences, and they’re easily identified here too. This is a dynamic feature debut from France’s Xavier Legrand […]. Denis Ménochet’s bullying, paranoid Antoine is the hulking heart of Custody, but as his young son Julien, newcomer Thomas Gioria also holds his own. Ménochet, [Lea] Drucker and Gioria give their all to this chamber-like piece, which is a thematic progression of the director’s short Just Before Losing Everything. […] Nathalie Durand’s camera feels suitably oppressed in these close confines, while editor Yorgis Lamprinos has a deft command of pace as the
Screenings
The Image Book is a work that reprises many of Jean-Luc Godard’s familiar ideas, but with an unexpected urgency and visceral strangeness. It’s an essay film with the body-language of a horror movie, avowedly taking Godard’s traditional concerns with the ethical status of cinema and history and looking to the Arab world and indirectly examining our orientalism […]. The Image Book is the signature Godard irony-mosaic of clips and fragments, with sloganised, gnomic texts, puns in brackets, sudden fades-to-black, unpredictable, unsynchronised sound cues which appear to have been edited quite without the usual concern for aural seamlesness, and vast, declamatory orchestral chords. In The Image Book he appears to gesture, again, at the subject of cinema’s culpable failure to witness the horrors of the modern world, failure to account for Auschwitz and Hiroshima. […]. This is, I think, still at the heart of Godard’s view and at the heart of
Screenings

Place publique (2018)

[Agnès Jaoui’s] film stars her regular co-scribe […] Jean-Pierre Bacri as a famous, over-the-hill TV presenter who attends the housewarming party of his producer, who’s moved into a countryside home straight out of Casa Vogue. His ex-wife, current girlfriend and a host of chic – and some not so chic – guests are also in attendance, with Jaoui again bringing her expert eye for the foibles of the French bourgeoisie to the proceedings. Place Publique is another solid work from Jaoui that explores not only the age-old quirks and idiosyncrasies of the well-off and privileged but also, more generally, contemporary issues such as the influence of the internet and social media on our lives and how cynicism might be hypocritical but could also be a saving grace. The film’s layers of irony start with the title, as “place publique” can be translated as “public space” or “public square” but the
Screenings

So Help Me God (2017)

What, exactly, are we watching here? A documentary, surely? Everything points that way in this remarkable portrait of Brussels examining magistrate Anne Gruwez, and the sometimes grisly, sometimes comic, sometimes heartbreaking human stories that she is forced to deal with, and pass judgement on, day after day. But there’s a certain tongue-in-cheek insouciance that has us reaching for Google after the end credits just to check that Gruwez really does the job she’s credited with in the film. She does. But if So Help Me God feels at times like a mockumentary rather than a documentary, and if the occasional audience-testing shock tactic […] is in dubious taste, in the end style and subject achieve a near perfect match. Anyone who has spent much time with people who come into contact on a daily basis with human depravity know that irony and gallows humour are common defence mechanisms, and in
Screenings
French writer-director Sophie Fillieres has a knack for making off-kilter dramedies about women under the influence, […] showing them in various states of hilarity, disarray and despair. Her latest effort, When Margaux Meets Margaux, doubles down on that premise by portraying not one but two such characters – who also happen to be the same person. […] [T]his surreal two-hander [exudes] its charms, with the winning duo of Sandrine Kiberlain and Agathe Bonitzer playing a woman at two stages in her life: one as she enters adulthood, the other as she reaches middle age. […] Fillières […] manages to dig intriguingly into the female psyche […]. When we first meet 20-year-old Margaux (Bonitzer), she’s skirting through a dead-end job and relationship while trying to finish her Masters’ degree. At a party one night in Paris, she runs into 45-year-old Margaux (Kiberlain), who, without any clear explanation […] turns out to
Screenings