Regardless of whatever particular trend or crisis is dominating Hollywood, we know that year-on-year we can rely on France to proudly produce a variety of cinematic oeuvres ranging from the fiercely independent to the most candidly commercial. 2017 looks to be no exception to the rule – these are the films we can’t wait to watch this year…
This tongue-in-cheek is-it-isn’t-it-autobiographical comedy is written and directed by Guillaume Canet, who also stars as a character named Guillaume Canet. And Marion Cotillard? She also plays herself – as Canet’s girlfriend. Canet is hearing from all corners that at 43, he’s too old to be “rock’n’roll”, and increasingly undesirable compared to the new young actors on the block. Cue a semblance of mid-life crisis which involves an affair with a younger actress and a visit to France’s king of rock, Johnny Hallyday, for some rock n roll advice. Rock’n’Roll is pretty much the opposite of Brad and Angelina in By the Sea, and the Canet-Cotillard union looks as strong as ever.
French director Arnaud des Pallieres is rarely predictable, and Orpheline doesn’t disappoint. Instead of directing a straightforward narrative biopic, he’s made a film that cuts between the stories of four different women of different ages. These four short films all represent different aspects of the woman at its centre – a character inspired by the life of co-screenwriter Christelle Berthevas. Adèle Exarchopoulos has perhaps been a little typecast in a sex-crazed lesbian role, but she plays it well alongside a French-speaking Gemma Arterton, while Adele Haenel completes the list of high profile talent by playing a headteacher threatened by Arteton’s character in a different chapter.
Demain tout commence (Two is a Family)
The buzz around Demain Tout Commence is already sky-high and it has a good chance of replicating the success of Omar Sy’s previous international blockbuster Les Intouchables. The infinitely likeable Sy plays the hard-partying Samuel who is confronted out of the blue by a former one-night stand, Kristen (Clémence Poésy). Kristen has brought Samuel a surprise – the child that was the fruit of their liaison – and promptly leaves. Sy ends up on a wild goose chase in London in a bid to track the mother down. Over the several years it takes, he raises their daughter on his own. But when Kristen returns to their lives, everything changes.
Mal des Pierres (From the Land of the Moon)
Veteran filmmaker Nicola Garcia unites Marion Cotillard and Louis Garrel in this 1950s drama which was premiered as part of Cannes’ Official Selection 2016. In From the Land of the Moon, Cotillard’s country girl Gabrielle has dreamed of a passionate love since she was young, leading her family and most villagers to cast her off as mad. They organise her marriage in the hope of making her into a respectable woman, but, after shirking off a lobotomy, when she meets Garrel’s dashing and wounded lieutenant, she finally finds what was missing – or does she?
Dalida was one of France’s greatest singers and actresses, whose 30-year career dominated the sixties and seventies. If you want an idea of the impact she had, in 1988, a poll asked the French which personalities had the greatest impact on French society. Dalida polled second, behind Général de Gaulle (the general who led France to victory over the Germans in WW2). In the first ever feature film about her life, we witness the course of her incredible career as well as her many personal highs and tragic lows leading up to her suicide in 1987.
Monsieur et Madame Adelman
Ah Doria Tillier and Nicolas Bedos – are they, or aren’t they? This pair of impossibly good-looking Frenchies have been publicly inviting us to ask this question for some time now. In Bedos’ directorial debut (which was also written by the pair), we follow his character’s relationship with Tillier’s over a period of 45 years, starting in 1971. If the trailer for this ‘odyssey of a couple’ is anything to go by, either they are extremely good actors, or this couple definitely ‘are’ in 2017!
Le Concours (The Graduation)
True French film aficionados will know that many French directors have passed through national film school, La Fémis. Director Claire Simon (Gare du Nord) documents the admissions process in this fly-on-the-wall documentary. Her privileged role as head of the school’s directing department has given her an unparalleled access to the recruitment process. Hopes, dreams, fears and worry all collide as the jury of experienced filmmakers interrogate the next generation to filter them down to the final 40 entrants. With Francois Ozon and Patrice Leconte among their notable alumni, you might just be witnessing France’s next star director begin his/her career.