20 December 2017

CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING and WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS? TWO FRENCH FILMS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.




CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING and WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS? A DOUBLE BILL OF FRENCH FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING. (1974) DIRECTED BY JACQUES RIVETTE. STARRING DOMINIQUE LABOURIER, JULIET BERTO, BARBET SCHROEDER, BULLE OGIER AND MARIE-FRANCE PISIER.

WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS? (1996) DIRECTED BY SANDRINE VEYSSET. STARRING DOMINIQUE RAYMOND AND DANIEL DUVAL.

CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING and WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS? are both out on special release at the moment from the BFI (separately, not together!), hence my reviewing 'em together. I watched them back-to-back on a Sunday afternoon recently and thoroughly enjoyed them both, especially CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING, a gorgeous film from the early 'Seventies that clocks in at a whopping three hours and a quarter. Good job I'd put aside the entire Sunday afternoon...!

It's the story of two quirky French girls- one of 'em is quirky to the point of being almost annoying- called (you guessed it!) Celine and Julie. Celine is an unconventional magicienne who does a nightclub act and lives a bohemian lifestyle, and Julie is a librarian who despite her conventional job nonetheless reads Tarot cards and books about magic spells.

Both young women are bright, lively and attractive. They become fast friends and move in together after Julie chases the dotty Celine halfway around Paris attempting to give her back items she's dropped. Yes, the kooky, careless floaty airy-fairy Celine is the annoying one, lol.

The women impersonate each other when it suits them or take over from each other in each others' lives. Celine causes Julie to be dumped by her boyfriend when she, Celine, goes to meet him, pretending to be Julie, and makes a fool of him. Julie- hopefully!- gets Celine into trouble at her work by taking over Celine's magic act for one special, unforgettable command performance.

There's another story going on here too, a sort of film-within-a-film. A gorgeous old mansion house behind high walls somewhere in Paris is the setting for this story. A handsome widower called Olivier (Barbet Schroeder, director of SINGLE WHITE FEMALE and other films) lives here with his young daughter and the two sisters of his dead wife.

The sisters, Camille and Sophie, each vie bitterly for the widower's attentions. Selfish, bitchy Camille plays on the fact that she looks a lot like Olivier's deceased wife. She doesn't care much for the motherless child. Sophie, a beautiful and glamorous but also soft and feminine woman, is hoping that the excellent care she takes of Madlyn will endear her to Olivier.

That way could take a little longer, lol. It's the sex that usually clinches a deal of that nature, in which case Camille might just pip Sophie to the post here. There's also yet another female, Madlyn's nurse, living in the house with the lucky Olivier but there's something odd about her. Look closely and you might spot it...

This little motley crew seems to dress in more old-fashioned clothing and listen to more old-fashioned music than the clearly modern Celine and Julie, liberated females of the modern age. What's the connection between our two feisty heroines and the occupants of the atmospheric old mansion house behind the high walls? Is there a connection? Well, there is, but I'm going to be maddeningly quirky and capricious now like Celine and not tell you...

WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS? is kind of a misleading title in that it implies a harmless kids' film along the lines of, say, THE RAILWAY CHILDREN or something. I gathered my kids on the couch to watch it with me but one of them- the one that's under eighteen!- had to be whooshed hurriedly upstairs to listen to the NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL CHRISTMAS! album when it became clear that it's not really a film for kids, despite having kids in it, see?

A nameless woman lives and works on a Provencal farm in modern times with her seven children. The children are not fatherless. They have a father all right, a married man and local landowner on whose farm they live.

They work like slaves on the farm for their keep, as this guy is merely exploiting the cheap labour they make and doesn't seem to hugely care about them. He has grown-up sons by his real wife, his legal wife, whom we never see.

The Mum works non-stop, both on the farm and in their house, to keep a roof over the kids' heads and see them all happy, healthy and well-fed, as well as educated in the local school. The Dad pops by most days to oversee the farm work and argue with the woman over money and their seven offspring. Sometimes he stays for sex. Yeah, they always stay for that...

The weather gets really awful in the winter here. Now it's coming up to Christmas, the kids have no presents, the telly's broke and the Mum's depressed and despairing. She keeps a brave face on for the kids, who all adore her. She's a really good Mum to them.

The Dad's contribution to Christmas is pathetically small. He should be ashamed of himself, and doubly so for having behaved in a sexual manner towards the couple's eldest daughter. The daughter, who's only barely a teenager, is absolutely devastated.

When the Mum finds out, she's understandably furious but what's the good of merely being furious if she doesn't use her anger to somehow propel her into leaving this bastard? On the other hand- and I do understand this- where would she go with all seven of her kids if she left him? Where would they live? What would they live on? At least, on the farm, they're fed and housed. Well, just about...

There's a point in the film at which you suddenly suspect that the ending is going to be darker, much darker, than you at first suspected. I won't give anything away except to say that that might yet be the case. It really all depends on your point of view.

It's a brilliant film, this one, but just don't make the mistake I did and assume your kids can watch it just because the title is WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS? Stick to A MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL for the young 'uns and they'll be grand...!

CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING and WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS? are each available to buy now in a special Dual Format Edition from the British Film Institute.

WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS? is released as part of WOMAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA, the BFI's ongoing celebration of women's contribution to film that has a regular screening slot at BFI Southbank and a range of films on BFI Player.

BFI releases are available from all good home entertainment retailers or by mail order from the BFI Shop Tel: 020 7815 1350 or online at www.bfi.org.uk/shop

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com











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