Cinefranco Film Festival 2005 - UPDATE #2
J'me sens pas belle (Tell Me I'm Pretty)
Directed by Bernard Jeanjean
Fluffier than a French souffle, J'me sens pas belle follows Fanny (Marina Foïs) and Paul (Julien Boisselier) as they embark on a first date that's fraught with complications (ie Paul doesn't even initially realize that it's a date). The film is essentially a superficial riff on Before Sunrise, as writer/director Bernard Jeanjean generally avoids the sort of existential conversations that were featured so prominently in Richard Linklater's film. Instead, Jeanjean goes for a wackier vibe, as Fanny and Paul find themselves confronting each other's various quirks (ie Paul's unusual passion for interpretive dance, Franny's predilection for lying, etc). But as effective as Foïs and Boisselier are in the film, it's hard to really get into the story due to Jeanjean's continued refusal to allow any sort of authenticity to seep into the characters - something that's particularly true of Franny. Her wild mood swings seem to exist only for comedic value, which makes it difficult to believe that Paul would consider hanging around this woman for a even few minutes (let alone an entire night). Still, J'me sens pas belle is essentially entertaining throughout - if utterly forgettable once it's over.
Directed by François Dupeyron
Inguélézi marks François Dupeyron's follow-up to the well-received Monsieur Ibrahim, and to call this is a disappointment is an understatement of colossal proportions. Dupeyron's reluctance to explain even the most minimal of questions - ie who is the central character mourning throughout the film - transforms Inguélézi into an alternately dull and infuriating experience. The film stars Marie Payen as Geneviève (we learn her name about an hour in, if that's any indication), a young woman who is somehow coerced into driving an immigrant (played by Eric Caravaca) across the border into England. The only problem is that the two speak different languages, resulting in an interminable road trip in which we watch the pair drive and drive (and drive) without talking to each other. Dupeyron is clearly going for the sort of improvisational vibe that Michael Winterbottom has cornered the market on, but even Winterbottom generally includes semi-interesting characters and a storyline in his films - two elements that are entirely absent from Inguélézi. Instead, Dupeyron places the emphasis on the most mundane elements in these characters' lives (ie we watch as Geneviève prepares her guest a cup of coffee, seemingly in real time), a disastrous choice that's exacerbated by the shaky, hand-held cinematography. As a result, Inguélézi wears out its welcome almost immediately - which is a shame, really, given how effective Monsieur Ibrahim was.