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La stratégie de la pousette

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2012, Clément Michel

A light hearted romantic comedy that will leave you wanting a sequel, La stratégie de la pousette tells the cute tale of a man trying to win back the love of his life.

ImageCommitaphobe Thomas Platz (Raphaël Personnaz) is devastated when, on the day of her birthday, his girlfriend Marie Deville (Charlotte Lebon) dumps him just outside of their apartment.

1 year later and Thomas catches a baby named Léo, falling from the floor above, as his mother (Camélia Jordana) faints. In hospital, she asks Thomas to take the baby and gives him the number of Léo’s father, who is partying in Amsterdam. What choice does Thomas have? He’s stuck playing dad for 5 days.Image

In these 5 days, we see him transform as a person, watching YouTube videos on how to change diapers and attending mother-baby classes; a business run by his ex, Marie. Upon seeing her once more, he falls hopelessly in love all over again, although she’s seeing someone else. Lying by telling her that he’s changed and that the baby is his, Thomas falls into the role of being a father whilst trying to juggle his new occupation with being a freelance illustrator.

Unknown-2With his best friend Paul ( played by Jérôme Commandeur), Thomas manages to attend classes and to fool the mothers and staff of bés Bonheurs into thinking that he is actually a father, due to Paul’s extensive supply of children’s toys from his job as a tennis coach and stroller lessons. Of course, Paul knows that Thomas is just using Léo to get back with Marie. Hilarity ensues as Thomas becomes tangled up in his own lies, including a recent divorcee on the hunt for a younger man who snaps Thomas up and won’t let him go, an eager kids-entertainer and a toy doll being flung across the room by a bored and hyperactive child.

Although not a work of art, if you’re looking for an easy romantic-comedy which will lift your spirits, La stratégie de la pousette is one not to be missed.

7/10

romper suit – une barboteuse

to nab – piquer

a lay (sexual) – un coup

stroller – la poussette

to suffocate – étouffer

pal – le pôte

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Angel – A

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2005, Directed by Luc Besson

Angel-A is a charming, feel-good storyline, filmed in black and white with some beautiful shots of Paris and a loveable protagonist. 

Parisian hustler Andre (Jamel Debbouze) is in trouble. Owing various people money, lying to himself and feeling generally down in the dumps, he attempts to jump off a bridge into the Seine, demanding to know why God doesn’t help him. Suddenly, appearing next to him is a beautiful blonde woman, about to plunge into the very same watery depths. Saving her life, Andre strikes up conversation with this mysterious woman – who is now known to be Angela (Rie Rasmussen). Unknown-1

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Swiftly realising that she’s an angel sent from above to help him with no recollection of her previous life, Andre embarks on a journey to change his life. However, Angela is not your typical angel: a chain-smoking, sexy woman who is not afraid to tell people what she wants (although she has to break some rules along the way). Fine dining, amazing hotels and a wonderful friendship that leaves him feeling fulfilled and worthy (which he never did before), Andre finds himself falling in love with her incredibly quickly, and in turn tries to help her.

Although I’d love to give this movie 10/10, it got a little strange at the end. When it’s time for Angela to leave, Andre gets pretty heavy handed and slightly violent, and yet still manages to win her heart after pulling on her until she falls into the Seine? I feel that the ending was pretty worrying. Why would Angela (who had beaten up a fair few men who dared hurt Andre) want to be with someone who grabbed her by the arm repeatedly after she told him to leave her alone and then pulled on her hair to bring her down to his height? The film lost a fair few points from me here.

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5/10

Coward – un/e lâche

A smoke (cigarette) – une clope

To wipe your slate clean – effacer l’ardoise

Crook – l’escroc

To enjoy sth. – profiter de qch.

To spoil, damage oneself – s’abîmer

To bark – aboyer

To catch up – rattraper

Oyster – un huitre

Fallen angel – un ange déchu

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L’Apollonide

L’Apollonide-PosterDirector: Bertrand Bonello

Set on the brink of the 20th century, L’Apollonide (also known for its English title: ‘House of Tolerance’) is set in a Parisian brothel, where a group of women enjoy a seemingly luxurious lifestyle full of champagne, expensive clothing and earning money through sex. However, all is not well as Marie-France, the owner of the brothel played by Noémie Lvovsky, could lose the business which she has built up so carefully.

Treated like objects of desire by many of the men to come to visit, the ladies of L’Apollonide are anything but objects. They’re full of life. L’Apollonide does not act to document the harsh experiences of prostitutes in brothels in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, instead it serves to delve into the lives of a group of women who live in the brothels and the trials and tribulations that they experience.

Treated like objects: Men choose which girl they want to sleep with that evening

Treated like objects: Men choose which girl they want to sleep with that evening

To begin with, we’re introduced to Madeleine, originally nicknamed ‘La Juive’ (played by Alice Barnole) who is infatuated with her lover. She often dreamt of him proposing and paying her off her debt to Marie-France, so that she could live with him. However, she does state that she sometimes feel like he wants to hurt her. He ties her up and slashes her face with a knife – rendering her almost ‘useless’ in terms of prostitution and disfiguring her for life by giving her a sick grin, similar to that of The Joker from the Batman series. She becomes “La Femme Qui Rit” (The Woman Who Laughs). She becomes a servant, or maid, for the other girls initially but does in fact gain some independence by using her disfigurement as a sort of ‘freak show’.

Madeleine: Making the most of her facial disfigurement

Making the most of her facial disfigurement

We also meet Clotilde, or ‘Belle Cuisse’, (played by Céline Salette, who you may recognise from Les Revenants). Struggling with an opium addiction and feeling the strain of being one of the oldest in the house, she shows us the side of ‘losing your value’. She is pushed out by the young Pauline, who becomes “La Petite”, who attracts her lover. As well as feeling for the girls in terms of abuse and neglect, we also realise how dangerous it is for some of them to be in this line of work. “La Caca”, one of the girls catches syphilis and is therefore ‘dumped’ by her client – though he still pays for her lodging.

It is necessary to remember that Marie-France still looks after her girls, selling them off to other houses when her brothel goes under, to keep them off the streets. She cares for them and could be said to have a soft-hearted approach despite her cold exterior upon first meeting this character. She allows Madeleine to stay, despite her disfigurement, she takes on Pauline. She cares for each and every one of the girls.

The ‘sisterhood’ element of L’Apollonide is prominent – the girls show each other respect and stand up for one another, as well as laughing off their own experiences. We watch them dance together, hug, talk, laugh and not show any signs of ‘bitchiness’. There is no ‘competition’ element which is often refreshing in a film which depicts a group of many girls together.  In fact, right at the very end, we see the girls grieve for the death of another and also ‘take revenge’ on the man who hurt, all wearing make up resembling the scars on Madeleine’s face.

The ending of L’Apollonide shows Clotilde in present day Paris, still working as a prostitute but on the streets. It shows her grainy, grey, washed out and tired. Different from the luxurious lifestyle she experienced in the 20th century, perhaps demonstrating the endless cycle of prostitution in life today.

Overall, a fantastic and emotional watch, if not a little confusing at some parts. (Pay attention to names…they each have 2.)

9/10

Vocabulary:

La Juive – the Jewess

La cicactrice – the scar

 

 

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Polisse

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Director: Maïwenn

Polisse, (the name being a childish version of the word ‘Police’)  is not for the faint-hearted. Documentary-style Polisse tugs at the heartstrings and slaps us in the face with the harsh reality of life in the Juvenile Protection Unit of the Police Department in Paris.

Melissa (Maïwenn herself), a journalist who arrives to investigate the Juvenile Protection Unit falls for Fred (played by Joey Starr) – a sensitive yet quick-to-temper character, who already has a wife and daughter. Although this may seem like one of the simplest ‘forbidden’ love stories of all time, it is complicated by the interweaving relationships between the various members of staff. The stresses of their jobs affecting their relationships with both friends and partners.

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Talking to children about the abuse they’ve suffered is not an easy job, as the film covers.

The great thing about this film is that it’s jam-packed with emotion – believable emotion towards child-abuse. This, teamed with documentary-style footage, keeps a ‘realistic’ element to the whole film. For me, documentary is a very effective way of conveying drama in a workplace. For example, look at Entre les Murs (otherwise known as The Class); the documentary style keeps it from looking too clean and too perfect, it enables us to connect with the cast and understand the situations that they find themselves in. 

Although I can highly commend this film for not holding back on the details, I would not recommend it to everyone. For those of you who find scenes of child abuse or scenes of talking about child abuse disturbing, this film is not for you. Similarly, those who can’t deal the idea of abortion, you might want to skip one of the scenes. It has to be said, that this scene definitely made me shed a tear. It manages to be halfway between tender and clinical. The young girl who whispers “sorry” to her child, reflects on the sad necessity of abortion that is so debated today. The fact that the baby can be used as evidence against the young girl’s rapist is also a point worth making: it doesn’t ‘protect’ the audience, the way a more ‘classic’ film might do and it shocks you. You are seeing what the characters see everyday.

Not only is there a vast array of characters in the Juvenile Protection Unit, but there is also an array of characters among the victims and abusers alike. We see those who are greasy slimeballs, to those who don’t understand what has happened, to those who ‘just can’t help themselves’. You do not warm to all the police force – in fact you may find yourself siding with Iris (Marina Foïs) or Nadine (Karin Viard). 

Polisse is definitely worth a watch: it tackles modern issue which are much in debate today. For example, we witness Nora (played by Naidra Ayadi) tackling sexism in Islam and Fred undergoing the procedure of bathing his daughter, telling her that ‘daddies don’t go in the bath with daughters’. Polisse doesn’t just deal with the drama in the victim’s world as well, it’s necessary to understand that it deals with the victims in the police force – those who cannot deal with stress, those who lose the case for being too emotionally involved.

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“Where does it say [in the Qur’an] that women cannot work?”

Overall, Polisse is a little long and has a slightly bizarre ending but is well-constructed and elegantly done in terms of handling such delicate situations: it does not bombard you with sick images, nor does it drown you in morals. It hands situations to the audience and they can decide how they feel about them. Some may complain that it can come across boring or confusing in parts, which I would agree with. The ending left me racking my brains for what could have led to that outcome. For me, it almost felt as if the writers needed a definite ending and this was the way to go.

7/10

Vocabulary:

frotter – to rub 

tromper qqn – to cheat on somebody

 un fugueur, une fugueuse – a runaway (from home)

les vergetures – stretchmarks

un foyer – a home

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