Showing posts with label François Ozon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label François Ozon. Show all posts

3 December 2013

Film Review - Jeune Et Jolie (Young & Beautiful)

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Lionsgate Fims UK
Release Date:
22nd November 2013 (UK)
François Ozon
Marine Vacth, Géraldine Pailhas, Frédéric Pierrot,Charlotte Rampling

François Ozon’s examination of teenage sexual awakening is a quiet, puzzling affair. As a treatise on childhood, rebellion or sexuality it seems to offer up very little in the way of answers, but repeatedly alludes to a crucial and troubling question of motivation.

Seventeen year-old Isabelle’s (Marine Vacth) disappointing holiday dalliance with a German lad prompts the striking young girl to seek out an existence as a prostitute, the reasons for which are never truly explained. She frequents high-end Parisian hotel rooms servicing a number of gents, ultimately developing something approaching a relationship with a kind, elderly client.

The arrangement takes its toll on her family life, with the inevitable revelation damaging her already detached relationship with her parents. She is trotted off to see a psychologist to reflect upon the fallout her emotionally difficult, yet financially rewarding career path has caused to her and those around her.

Isabelle is frequently quizzed on the reasons behind her new calling as a prostitute, but it’s a question which is never reasonably answered. Indeed watching Vacth’s puzzlingly vacant expression as she lounges across the bed sheets, you’re never quite sure if she or the director had any clue themselves.

Perhaps the only reasonable explanation is just that she enjoys it, which might possibly be justification enough. It’s a coolly intriguing thought to dwell upon, but it leaves you with distinctly underwhelming and disappointing sense of a missed opportunity.

A mysterious sign-off with a briefly visible Charlotte Rampling provides little closure and only serves to intensify the slight sense of dissatisfaction which lingers throughout the whole thing.


Chris Banks

29 November 2013

Models Turned Actors (Jeune et Jolie Feature)

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With model-good looks being a near-universal prerequisite to ‘making it’ in Hollywood, it might seem like moving from the modelling industry into acting would be a logical, seamless transition. However, with a number of successful models proving to be acting disasters, we are naturally wary of those that make the switch, suspecting that talent may have taken a backseat to beauty. In François Ozon’s brilliant new film Jeune et Jolie, Marine Vacth proves that these prejudices far from apply to her. In a performance that has received rave reviews, Vacth stars as a curious young girl on a journey of sexual discovery. To celebrate the release of Jeune et Jolie on 29th November we take a look at some others who have proven that models can have serious acting chops too.

Marine Vacth

Starting out as a model at the tender age of 15, the beautiful Marine stunned her way to a number of high profile campaigns, replacing Kate Moss as the face of Yves Saint Laurent perfume. However, Marine left behind what surely would have been an impressive career in modelling to pursue her true passion in film. Jeune et Jolie marks her breakthrough role, gaining international recognition for her performance - delivered with the assurance and subtlety of an actor years her senior.

Famke Janssen

Dutch beauty Famke Janssen moved from Holland to the US to pursue a career in modelling, experiencing great success evident through her work in the late 80s with Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel and Victoria’s Secret. She burst onto the scene with her brilliantly camp portrayal of Xenia Onatopp in Pierce Brosnan’s best Bond film – Goldeneye – and cemented her ‘respectable actor’ status as Jean Grey in Bryan Singer’s X-Men trilogy.
Film highlights – Goldeneye, Taken, X-Men

Halle Berry

Halle Berry has had a truly remarkable, record-breaking career. Winning Miss Teen All American and Miss Ohio as a teen, she later went on to become the first African American Miss World entrant in 1986. Making her film debut in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, Halle went from role to role until, in 2001, she became the first – and only – African American to win Best Actress at the Academy Awards for Monster’s Ball. Like Janssen, Berry also starred in the X-Men Trilogy as Storm, and appeared as a Bond girl in the –albeit terrible – Die Another Day. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all, Halle!
Film Highlights – Monster’s Ball, X-Men, Cloud Atlas

Lily Cole

Before being scouted whilst walking the streets of London aged 14, Lily Cole had never considered modelling. Yet this chance encounter proved to be the most important in her life. Appearing on the cover of Vogue aged 16, the only was up for Cole as she went on to work with fashion giants such as Prada, Alexander McQueen, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. While still an influential model, Cole tried her hand at acting, taking on a few small roles before starring in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus alongside Heath Ledger in his final film.
Film highlights – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, St. Trinians

Mark Wahlberg

While not the most prolific of models, Mark Wahlberg can easily boast the most colourful past on this list. Coming into the public eye as the younger brother of Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on the Block fame, Mark was angry and violent through his adolescent years, suffering from cocaine addiction at 13 and getting convicted for attempted murder at 16. Turning over a new leaf, Wahlberg reinvented himself as rapper Marky Mark, later modelling for Calvin Klein underwear. Wahlberg then made the transition to acting, gaining plaudits for his portrayal of Micky Ward in 2010’s The Fighter.

Jeune et Jolie is in UK cinemas from today 29th November courtesy of Lionsgate Films UK.

22 July 2013

In The House (Dans La Maison) DVD Review

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Rating: 15
DVD Release Date:
22nd July 2013 (UK)
François Ozon
Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer, Kristin Scott Thomas
Buy: [Blu-ray] [DVD]

A talented pupil and a frustrated teacher. A tale as old as time and a mainstay of cinema ever since Robin Williams received a table striding declaration of support in Dead Poet’s Society. Francois Ozon’s In The House uses this well worn template to blur the lines between fantasy and reality, bringing an uneasy dynamic to the classroom drama.

Having scored his biggest UK hit to date last time out with gender role comedy Potiche, Ozon’s follow-up eschews the laughs in favour of a return to the more ambiguous tone found in his earlier works. It’s also as much a paean to the power of our imagination as it is a tale of mentor and student.

Fabrice Luchini shakes off the misogynous mindset instilled in his role of Catherine Denevue’s husband in Potiche to play literature teacher Mr Germain, returning to school for another year of uninspiring works from unenthused students. Or so it is until a routine ‘how I spent my weekend’ assignment unearths a rare nugget of promise among his apathetic class. While the majority of hand-ins recount the mundane adolescence of video games, pizza’s and wasted Sunday’s, one student, Claude (a suitably creepy Ernst Umhauer), bucks the trend by regaling a somewhat sinister account of voyeurism. Under the premise of maths tutorage, Claude talks his way into the home of fellow classmate Rapha, observing and rather disparagingly depicting the model middle-class life on show. Instantly catching the literary eye of Germain, Claude takes his attention for encouragement, returning time and again to this suburban ideal to portray the life behind those doors, in the house.

The comfortably domestic lives of Germain and wife Jeane (Kristen Scott-Thomas) are given a new distraction, evenings now spent ingesting and dissecting the latest work from the star pupil. While Germain, slightly in awe of his potential-laden student, somewhat neglects his teacher duties in overlooking the increasingly concerning tone of the passages, it is left to () to point out the glaring dangers of such obsessive voyeurism. Indeed it is she who at times understands the works on a far greater level than her book-loving husband.

Taking Claude under his wing, Germain gives Ozon the chance to go conduct a literature 101 class. Structures, rules and questions of authorship are all mulled over. This is literature with a capital L, to be discussed, debated and considered. It’s also where Ozon seems to be having most fun. Placing us within Claude’s writing as well as the world outside, Ozon toys with our (and Germain’s) perception of what is real what is fiction and what is pure teenage fantasy. It’s a theme he embellishes with a lightweight subplot for Scott-Thomas’s art curator. Her under threat gallery has it’s fate in the hands of two ill-informed and unappreciative identical twins with the varying works that pass through offering Ozon another chance to touch upon further themes of authorship and creative ownership.

It’s a film that encourages us to become the voyeurs, the ending an invitation to mimic the leads – peeking behind the curtain and imagining the lives being carried out. In these hands people watching takes on a whole new mindset, transcending into an art form from which great works can appear. It’s a notion that outshines the film itself, ultimately In The House never quite engrosses as much as one of the stories from the pen of it’s young lead.


Matthew Walsh

24 February 2013

GFF 2013: In The House (Dans La Maison) Review

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In the House, François Ozon's first directorial feature since the magnificent, Potiche, sees him once again team-up with Fabrice Luchini for equally strong results.

Germain (Luchini), a literature teacher receives essays from student, Claude Garcia (Ernst Umhauer), confessing his desire to visit the perfect family home of one of his classmates. As these essays grow more troubling, Germaine is unable to distinguish between fiction and reality, suspecting the motivations of the manipulative Claude.

Part of the pleasure of Ozon's feature comes from the ever-shifting tones, with In the House blurring the lines between psychological thriller, drama and comedy seamlessly. Every genre that the director delves into is handled with the utmost confidence, making the many twists and turns that Ozon's rich screenplay (based on Juan Mayorga's stage play) takes us on, all the more thrilling.

Using the dual narrative of Claude's stories and real life allows for Ozon to have a lot of fun. Watching Germain's paranoia as he grows continually more infatuated with Garcia's stories, so much so that he begins to lose his grip on reality, makes for thrilling viewing. The audience eventually becomes like Germain and Claude, voyeurs looking into the Artole Family home, where we discover that despite Claude's first thoughts, they are very far from the perfect family. There's a sinister energy generated by this voyeurism, mainly sourcing from Claude's fantasies surrounding the Artole Matriarch, Esther (Emmanuelle Seigner), culminating in an almost Gothic sequence where Claude stays over night at the family home. These dark psychological thrills strike parallels with Ozon's earlier feature, the masterfully unsettling Swimming Pool.

In the House is not a completely dark watch, Ozon gives occasional moments of playful humour. These mainly stem from Fabrice Luchini's staggeringly brilliant performance - Luchini is truly an actor gifted with a great versatility, being equally convincing at both light comic elements and heavier dramatic material. Many of these laughs come from Luchini's scenes with on-screen wife, Kristin Scott Thomas who runs an exhibit at a local art gallery, which Germain dubs "Art for perverts." The actress heads a stellar supporting cast which also includes Emmanuelle Seigner, Denis Ménochet and a wonderfully sinister turn from newcomer, Ernst Umhauer.

In the House is a truly absorbing watch, thanks to an inventive screenplay providing us with a mix of mysterious psychological thrills, well-paced drama and some light comic flourishes. Ozon handles these elements with his ingenuity, wit and competence, allowing for some standout performances from Luchini, Umhauer &Thomas.

Andrew McArthur


Stars: Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer, Kristin Scott Thomas , Emmanuelle Seigner
Director: François Ozon
Certificate: 15 (UK)
Release: 21st February 2013 (Glasgow Film Festival)29th March 2013 (UK)