French Culture – Film Review

By Kayla Allen -
I love almost everything French.
When I visited Paris it took a lot of convincing by my boyfriend at the time to get me to go anywhere else in Europe and even more convincing to get me back on the plane home to the states. I quite simply just never wanted to leave.
Everything seemed beautiful to me. Even I felt more beautiful. I felt like I was in a film; the gorgeous French film of my life in Paris. I'm sure it feels different if you actually have to work in Paris and you can't spend your days running from museum to café and drinking delicious wine next to Notre Dame and strolling down the river at night with the Eiffel tower just in the distance, but that's how it was for me. And I wanted more and more.
As they tend to do, my vacation ended and I found myself back at my apartment with Paris very far away. Enter, French film, ah.
I will go back to Paris as many times as I can in my life but in the meantime I supplement my France fixation with film. Paris can sometimes seem even more picturesque in Black & White.
I'm going to hold myself to talk about just two movies, Breathless and Irma Vep. Breathless was made in 1959 and Irma Vep in 1996. They feel very different and I love them both.
Irma Vep is interesting because it actually follows a French director trying to make an updated version of a French series and trying to capture and retain its “Frenchness” while remaining true to his artistic vision and using, in his estimation the perfect woman for the role, a Chinese actress who speaks no French. A movie within a movie. There's so much discussion in this film about French film, the dialogue is done plainly yet wittily, it's visually gorgeous and there's just enough bashing of American blockbusters to make you laugh. And then there's the end. The end is so silent, gorgeous, sad and breathtaking it made my heart actually ache.
All I will say about Breathless is that if you haven't seen it, you must and if you've seen it once you should watch it again.
Some other heart stoppers include:
Belle du Jour
That Obscure Object of Desire (same director as above)
Red (same director for all three colors)
Amelie (of course)
Le Femme Nikita
Man on a Train (love, love, love)

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