French films and an excellent biopic on the fight between the Jazz diva and the FBI… What should we see this week? The editorial selection of the Figaro.
Billie Holiday: a matter of state , a drama by Lee Daniels, 2:08
In Lee Daniels’ committed biopic, soul singer Andra Day plays Billie Holiday, who has become a target for the United States government (here, her drug trial in New York in 1947) for evoking the atrocious reality of lynchings of African-American citizens in song Strange Fruit. Andra Day becomes Lady Day immediately, with her banter, her voice, her scoundrel look and her breathtaking charisma. It took courage to dare to challenge the authorities by interpreting Strange Fruit, that even the immense John Hammond, discoverer of Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, had yet forbidden the singer to record it for Columbia. We will be grateful to Andra Day and director Lee Daniels for showing this courageous and badass side in women, light years away from the clichés on ” fragile little thing“. A victim of her addiction, Billie Holiday was not a delinquent. Without outrageous pathos, his addictions (heroin, alcohol, men) are treated with a very contemporary look, and without the folklore of the time. The love scenes in which the singer exults also contribute to the success of the film. The sight of this woman struggling with the blinders of her time is good for George Floyd’s America. It gives it back a pioneering place, as much for the rights of women as those of African-Americans. It is also on this heritage that the film dwells, even more than its status as superstar of vocal jazz. It certainly took the look of a Lee Daniels to give this new complexity to a character about whom we have seen everything, heard everything since his untimely death at the age of 44.
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Playlist , a comedy by Nine Antico, 1h25
Nine Antico adds his name to the long list of cartoonists who have gone to the cinema (Bilal, Sattouf, Sfar, Rabaté…). We find in Playlist , his first feature film with the tunes of autofiction, his taste for rock and boys. To play her alter ego, she chose Sara Forestier, surprisingly with restraint. Sophie dreams of great love and of publishing her drawings. She finds a job as a press officer in a publishing house run by a psychopathic boss (Grégoire Colin, perfect). The satire of the comic book scene is the most successful part. The black and white chronicle of the thwarted love of a lost almost thirty-something is less convincing. Playlist recalls Frances Ha, without the charm of Greta Gerwig in front of the camera, nor the elegance of Noah Baumbach behind the camera, nor the cinégénie of New York. Actually no, Playlist doesn’t have much in common with Frances Ha.
Men , a drama by Lucas Belvaux, 1h41
Wars never end. Feu-de-Bois has obviously not recovered from being sent to Algeria. In his village, the inhabitants no longer support this racist and alcoholic ogre. Spoiling his sister’s birthday is routine for him. Gérard Depardieu growls, belches, curious mixture of Hulk and Frankenstein’s monster. The memories go back to the throat, which is worth to us harsh flashbacks in the djebel. The called wonder what they are doing there. You don’t get used to absurdity and violence. Trauma guaranteed. It was their 20 years. They were stolen from them. The reconstruction evokes the heyday of the SFP. The passages from one epoch to another are not without squeaking. The countless voiceovers do not help, even if they appeared in the novel by Laurent Mauvignier adapted by Lucas Belvaux, which we have known better inspired. Catherine Frot no longer knows what to do with her horrible brother. The irreproachable Jean-Pierre Darroussin, who never manages to be bad, poses on this a sorry look. By the film (school) or by its past (which does not pass)?
Villa Caprice , a thriller by Bernard Stora, 1h43
Gilles Fontaine (Patrick Bruel), a corrupt businessman, asks Luc Germon, one of the best lawyers in France (Niels Arestrup), to defend him. Inspired by the suicide, in 2013, of Olivier Metzner, a famous lawyer, Bernard Stora confronts two established personalities who will have to get along. Thomas Hardmeier’s photography is as beautiful as the pages of a decoration magazine – the Villa Caprice is sumptuous under the hot Var sun -, but the director who had amazed us with Le Grand Charles misses his subject. His “psychological thriller»Precisely lack of psychology and finesse. Fontaine and Germon play cat and mouse, but without surprising them. Bernard Stora relies on a scenario that is far too fragile and a random setting. The actors, who do not have to be ashamed of their performance, seem to be left to their fate and their verbal games lack spice.
Little mom , a drama by Céline Sciamma, 1h12
After a chaste and lesbian remake of The Piano Lesson( Portrait of the girl on fire), Céline Sciamma returns, strong of the precedent Tomboy, to a film at the height of a child withLittle mom . It all starts in the empty room of an Ehpad. Nelly, 8, has just lost her grandmother. She accompanies her parents to empty the house of the deceased. One morning, his mother leaves without explanation (sadness? Lazy?). Nelly stays with her father and especially her new friend, who is called Marion like her mother, a little girl she met in the woods. Nelly and Marion build a cabin, invite each other to have a snack, play together and the spectator understands that Nelly is making friends with her mother child. Nice idea which Sciamma does not do much, making her two young performers carry the weight of emotion without giving them much to grind. It’s no longer minimalism, it’s minusculism. Note that the house, custom-made in the studio, is sinister, soulless, and seems never to have been inhabited by an old lady.
Suzanna Andler , a drama by Benoît Jacquot, 1h31
Benoît Jacquot wanted for a long time to make a film after Suzanna Andler, a piece published in May 1968 that Marguerite Duras did not care about. He saw ” rooted boulevard“. “Phaedra on the coast” or “Andromache on vacationWould have made a good headline. Fans of Duras will love Charlotte Gainsbourg, chic and sad in her fur coat and seaside villa. Joined by her young lover, Michel (Niels Schneider), the wife and mother often looks out the window. She suffers, she doubts and we are completely bored.Suzanna Andlerhas at least one merit, that of making us want to dive back intoVirginie Q., by Marguerite Duraille (Balland), priceless pastiche of Patrick Rambaud whose pleasure to reproduce a few sentences cannot be resisted: “They are silent. They don’t talk to each other. He didn’t say anything to her. She, she is distracted as she is silent. He is cold. Her lips are chapped. She looks around, and she already sees the yellow light of the Friends Bar. There was only that to see, in the dark, that light.“Great art.