InsideOut 2004 - UPDATE #2
Cold as Summer
Directed by Jacques Maillot
According to the Internet Movie Database, Cold as Summer was produced for French television - a real surprise given how accomplished the film is, technically and structurally. It's hard to know how much of the movie's story to give away, as the surprises that emerge prove to be a big part of what makes Cold as Summer so enjoyable. The film introduces us to Rachel (Sarah Grappin), a young mother with a one-year-old daughter who appears to resent her child for stifling her freedom (this is made plainly clear as we see Rachel leave her sick baby with a neighbor while she goes shoe shopping and later drops a roofie into her bottle to make her sleep). The plotless nature of the opening half hour is strangely compelling, because you just know that all this neglect must be leading up to something. And boy, is it ever. The second half of the film introduces a cop named Claire (Nathalie Richard), who has been struggling to conceive a child of her own (without getting too far into spoiler territory, Claire's connection to Rachel is dictated by her job). Director Jacques Maillot does a superb job of establishing both these characters, employing a gritty, naturalistic style that affords the film a distinct feeling of realism. Actresses Grappin and Richard are fantastic in their vastly different roles, with Grappin a standout (Maillot's screenplay asks us to both hate and root for her character, a seemingly impossible task nevertheless accomplished by Grappin).
Directed by Francis Girod
Astonishingly dull, Gender Bias is a thriller without any thrills and a drama without any drama. The complicated and maddeningly pointless storyline involves a transvestite streetwalker named Bo (Robinson Stévenin) who becomes the prime suspect in a series of murders involving his prostitute friends. Director Francis Girod spends a lot of time introducing the various people in Bo's life, but the real problem is that not one of them is interesting in the least. When said characters begin dropping like flies, it's impossible to care; it certainly doesn't help that Bo seems to be more concerned with solving the crime than mourning the deaths of most of his friends. The movie doesn't even work as an examination of life as a cross-dressing hooker, as screenwriters Philippe Cougrand and Girod gloss over the rigors of such a profession. Star Stévenin, an up-and-coming actor in France, does a fine job in the role - though he's not exactly given a whole lot to work with. The bottom line is that Gender Bias, when everything's said and done, accomplishes nothing; it's instantly forgettable, which is an impressive feat given how endless the film feels.