Cinefranco Film Festival 2008 - UPDATE #1
Ensemble c'est tout (Hunting and Gathering)
Directed by Claude Berri
Very simple yet very effective, Ensemble c'est tout revolves around the friendship that forms between three disparate characters (Guillaume Canet's Franck, Laurent Stocker's Philibert, and Audrey Tautou's Camille) and the manner in which they subsequently enrich one another's lives. The film marks the latest effort from prolific French filmmaker Claude Berri, who - though pushing 80 - offers up a trio of distinctly authentic 20-something figures and places them within the context of a compelling, surprisingly affecting storyline. This is despite the fact that Philibert ultimately receives short shrift in terms of character development, as he initially comes off as an effete stutterer and eventually (and inexplicably) winds up with a fiancee. Yet this proves not to be as problematic as one might've feared, with Berri's decision to instead place the emphasis on the charming coupling between Franck and Camille ensuring that one can't help but fall hook, line and sinker for the admittedly hackneyed romantic finish (which even includes a variation on the old race-to-the-airport maneuver!) Buoyed by Tautou and Canet's superb work, Ensemble c'est tout is one of those movies that essentially sneaks up on the viewer and makes a far more pronounced impact than one might've initially anticipated.
Directed by Michel Spinosa
An art-house spin on Fatal Attraction, Anna M. casts Isabelle Carre as the title character - a meek young woman whose dull existence pushes her towards a half-hearted suicide attempt (she steps in front of a car). Anna subsequently finds herself drawn to her helpful doctor (Gilbert Melki's Andre Zanevsky) and the remainder of the film is essentially devoted to her efforts at making his life a living hell. Filmmaker Michel Spinosa has infused Anna M. with a deliberately-paced sensibility that often seems at odds with the story's more overtly lurid elements, with the end result a schizophrenic effort that's never entirely successful as either an authentic drama or an over-the-top thriller. This is despite an admittedly riveting performance from Carre; though saddled with an increasingly unlikable character, the actress does a superb job of turning Anna into a figure worthy of the viewer's sympathy (which is no small feat, certainly, considering some of the awful things she does throughout the movie's runtime). The almost extreme degree to which the movie peters out as it approaches its anti-climactic finale ultimately cements its place as an ineffective piece of work, although - for aficionados of this sort of thing - one can't help but be impressed by the lengths Anna goes to mess with the object of her affections (ie she gets a job as a nanny in the apartment above his).