The Films of Jean-Jacques Beineix
The Moon in the Gutter
Roselyne and the Lions (July 16/09)
Running almost three hours, Roselyne and the Lions follows fledgling lion tamers Thierry (Gerard Sandoz) and Roselyne (Isabelle Pasco) as they encounter a whole host of setbacks before finally earning a spot at an internationally-renowned circus - where, much to Thierry's annoyance, Roselyne quickly becomes the focus of the pair's act. Filmmaker Jean-Jacques Beineix does a fantastic job of drawing the viewer into the film's admittedly alien landscape, as the behind-the-scenes look into the training of circus animals is as inherently fascinating as one might've expected (although there's little doubt that the less-than-friendly treatment of the big cats is sometimes a little tough to stomach). The leisurely pace employed by Beineix ultimately plays a significant role in the movie's early success, with the pervasive atmosphere of authenticity effectively compensating for the screenplay's decidedly plotless nature. It's only as the film moves into its episodic midsection - triggered by Thierry and Roselyne's decision to hit the road - that one's interest starts to dwindle, as Beineix subjects the central characters to a series of encounters with a whole host of exceedingly quirky figures (ie after winding up at a traveling circus, the pair become fast friends with an off-the-wall dwarf). Roselyne and the Lions slowly but surely regains its footing once the story arrives at its final destination (ie the aforementioned internationally-renowned circus), however, with a riveting sequence in which Thierry and Roselyne prove themselves before a group of skeptical higher ups - coupled with a jaw-dropping overhead shot of an expansive rehearsal space - effectively carrying the proceedings through to its conclusion. The end result is a consistently watchable endeavor that certainly possesses its share of indelible moments, yet it's finally impossible to overlook the feeling that the film would've benefited substantially from a much shorter running time.
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