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Cinefranco Film Festival 2004 - UPDATE #3

Il est plus facile pour un chameau... (It's Easier for a Camel...)
Directed by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi
FRANCE/110 MINUTES

Il est plus facile pour un chameau... is an extremely free-form look at the trails and tribulations of one woman's life - unfortunately, said woman just isn't interesting in the slightest. Director/co-writer Valeria Bruni Tedeschi stars as Federica, a thirtysomething single girl who spends her days aimlessly performing one mundane task after another. The real problem with the movie is that by the time it ends, we don't know anything more about Federica than we did going in (about the only thing we learn about the character is that she's rich and behaves eccentrically). The film shows her at ballet class and dealing with man troubles, but there's absolutely no context for anything she does. As a result, it's virtually impossible to become involved in her story. There's a ridiculous backstory featuring her character getting abducted as an adolescent, which leads to a sequence in which her parents have a congenial dinner with the kidnappers (huh?) It's a shame, as Bruno Tedeschi undeniably possesses a lot of charm; that the movie is even a little bit watchable is thank to her ingratiating performance.

out of


Filles uniques (Only Girls)
Directed by Pierre Jolivet
FRANCE/87 MINUTES

Filles uniques is an incredibly slight story about two very different women - a judge named Carole (Sandrine Kiberlain) and a shoplifter named Tina (Sylvie Testud) - that become unlikely friends. There's not much of a story here, just a series of comedic vignettes, so your ability to enjoy the film primarily depends on how fond you are of these two characters. The film is purportedly a comedy, though very few of the jokes actually work; too much of the humor is derived from silliness, including Tina's obsession with shoes (a running gag that goes nowhere). And the simplicity of the screenplay (penned by director Pierre Jolivet and Simon Michaël) inevitably winds up hurting the story; ie it becomes clear almost immediately that the Tina is going to teach Carole how to lighten up and have fun, while Carole is going to teach Tina how to obey the rules. Still, the performances are effective and the movie's mercifully short. And in all fairness, Filles uniques will probably play a whole lot better among female audience members (this clearly isn't one of those so-called "chick flicks" with appeal for both men and women).

out of


Tristan
Directed by Philippe Harel
FRANCE/100 MINUTES

Tristan is quite possibly the least interesting serial killer movie ever, primarily because of the film's premise. Mathilde Seigner stars as Emmanuelle, a burned-out detective whose latest case involves two victims that died by their own hand. Emmanuelle believes that the two young girls were driven to suicide by a murderer in search of a perfect romance (when the relationship begins to sour, he somehow convinces his victim to kill herself). And therein lies the problem; Tristan is a serial killer movie in which the perpetrator essentially romances his victims to death. Despite a convincingly gritty performance from Seigner, the film remains wholly ineffectual; Emmanuelle never entirely becomes an interesting character, which makes it difficult to care about her determination to solve the case. And then there are the ridiculous sequences in which Emmanuelle confers with her mentor, who warns the detective that she's finally met her match (no, really). The movie falls back on such clichés often, entirely negating director Philippe Harel's admittedly effective sense of style. Finally, there's a conclusion that doesn't make a lick of sense and seems to render everything that came before it irrelevant. Interestingly, the film's sole intriguing moments arrive in the form of Emmanuelle's weekly lunches with her parents. Their conversations are genuinely interesting, and when the movie inevitably returns to the lackluster serial killer storyline, it's hard not to wish that more time had been spent on such low-key moments.

out of