Tag Archives: France

La Vie d’Adele Chapitres 1 et 2


2013, Abdellatif Kechiche 

A film that will leave you in tears, leave you smiling and leave you aching to watch more (despite the incredibly long running time of 3 hours), La Vie d’Adele is a masterpiece that explores relationships, love and loss. Adèle (Adèle Excharopoulos) is an introverted high school student with a boyfriend she happened to stumble upon, but something isn’t right. When she meets artist Emma (Léa Seydoux), she enters a beautiful and heartwarming relationship and the ripple effect causes her to find herself, and find out about others. Image La Vie d’Adele is in some ways an incredibly subtle film, and in other cases incredibly explicit. For example, the subtleties of homophobic culture within La Vie d’Adele show their true colours when Adèle’s ‘friends’ start asking why she was talking to a ‘dyke’ and accuse her of ogling them. The group is divided when Adèle responds to their aggressive verbal attacks with violence. In many ways, we see the distinct separation of Adèle and Emma’s lives when it comes to the acceptance of their relationship. Emma’s accepting parents with their oysters; Adèle’s family with their spag bol and “what does your boyfriend do, Emma?” attitude. We see the subtle maturation of both women throughout the film: Adèle appears to us as uncultured at first compared to Emma and Emma’s artistic friends who discuss Klimt and Schiele, whereas Adèle can only watch on in awe. Emma is initially an art student, who is not taken seriously by the older generation (such as Adèle’s father) and yet matures into a fantastic and successful artist. The way that these two women grow up together and then grow in different directions will leave you frustrated and upset – you want them to stay together forever despite their differences, but as harsh reality would have it, it doesn’t always go that way. Image The explicit use of the colour blue to signify Adèle’s happiness is also worth noting – as we see the blue grow out of Emma’s hair we realise that trouble is on the horizon (largely Adèle’s fault) and the way that she aches to be in the sea, her blue bedsheets, a blue dress tell us more about Adèle’s admiration of and love for Emma than her constant tears do. Image Of course, I couldn’t write a review detailing the subtleties and explicit scenes of La Vie d’Adèle without touching upon the explicit sex scenes of the film. The sex scenes are uncomfortable (when are explicit sex scenes not uncomfortable?) and I can’t help but thinking that they were used as a ‘shock’ factor. Although we do see the feminine form in all its beauty when Emma is sketching Adèle, I can’t help but think that the sex scenes were too dragged out, too long, too uncomfortable. For me, I would have felt awkward watching it with anyone else. However, despite the sex scenes, this film is a must-watch. You will find yourself immersed in Emma and Adèle’s turbulent relationship, feel their anger, feel their pain, feel their loss and ache for them to resolve their issues. If you’re looking to watch this film, it is currently on Netflix (I know right? I’m sure it only just came out in the cinemas). 9/10 Vocabulary: la chatte – pussy (yes, just like the english) une meuf – a woman, a girl, a chick (verlan slang) le graphisme – graphic arts les beaux-arts – fine art s’engager – to commit

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poupoupidou2011, Gérald Hustache-Mathieu

Light hearted and yet gripping, Poupoupidou puts a refreshing and darkly humorous spin on the classic ‘crime genre’. Not to be missed if you’re looking for an easy and enjoyable watch that will leave you with a smile on your face. 

poupoupidou3Set in the coldest town in France, Mouthe, writer David Rousseau (Jean-Paul Rouve) has hit a dead end with inspiration. Struggling to come up with new ideas, he stumbles upon the story of the ‘suicide’ of glamorous cheese-model Candice Lecoeur (Sophie Quinton) who believed that she was a reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe.

After inquiring about her death numerous times, David Rousseau decides to take matters into his own hands accompanied by brigadier Bruno Leloup (Guillame Gouix), and after interviewing her various ex-lovers, her therapist, her hairdresser and her self-confessed stalker, he is brimming with enthusiasm for his next novel.nobody-else-but-you-poupoupidou-film-review

Of course, this storyline seems bland and run of the mill without the fantastic acting from Quinton throughout the film, who portrays a reincarnated Marilyn Monroe, hard-hitting scenes of domestic violence within Lecoeur’s family home where she wants to help her abusive ex-partner, her battle with her addiction to sleeping pills, her ghostlike appearances alongside David Rousseau where the boundaries between fiction and reality become blurred.

11402242-largeAlthough at some points it feels as if the script becomes a bit lazy, with Candice Lecoeur singing the president a very happy birthday à la Marilyn, 9/10 it dishes up some references that will make you smile to yourself as you get sucked into the American Nostalgia in the French town.

The performance from David Rousseau is worth making a point as well. Not your ‘traditional’ hero, he manages to portray the quirky ‘intellectual’ type well, keeping up his sly humour throughout and his irresistible charm that seems to be so alluring to the women he meets.

Poupoupidou has a certain tongue in cheek element to it, how this small-town woman embodies the spirit of Marilyn Monroe and the classic crime novel is brought to film, with ghostly references to Candice Lecoeur’s past life. However, Poupoupidou is not one to stick around in your mind long after you have watched it and is mostly a good film if you want to relax and watch something easy going.


le deuil- mourning

la présentatrice météo – weather-lady

un poignard – dagger

une tentative suicide – a suicide attempt

plaquer qqn – to dump somebody

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2012, Régis Roinsard

An adorable twist on the traditional Romantic Comedy featuring Romain Duris and Déborah François that will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat in suspense.

Rose Pamphyle (Déborah François) is destined to live a dreary life in her hometown of Lisieux with her miserable widowed father (Frédéric Pierrot, whom you may recognise from thrilling TV series Les Revenants), that is until she attends a disastrous interview in Normandy to become a secretary, impressing the boss Louis Échard (Romain Duris) with her phenomenal typing skills. Although she makes a terrible secretary, competitive Louis dreams of honing Rose’s talent so that she can become a World Champion Typist, and the two embark on a romantic, unforgettable and adorable journey together. 


Set in the late 50s, one would think that Populaire would be rife with sexism, and although Louis starts off by calling Rose mon chou (Pumpkin, or literally ‘my cabbage’) Rose gets back at him with quick, witty remarks that will leave a smile on your face. The chemistry between Rose and Louis is evident right from the start, with Louis seeing more in her than ‘just a pretty face’, the conversations between the characters are flirty, cheeky and heartwarming, with Rose putting Louis in his place more than the other way round. 

Moving her into his home in order to train her fiercely with an old typewriter and a stern attitude, we soon see Rose and Louis become closer and closer, with him feeling particularly embarrassed at the presence of Rose in his house, which she takes great delight in (a 1950s insurance salesman desperately trying to find a place to put a bra – God forbid he should ever come across one of those with a lady in the house), and the relationship between them growing from purely platonic to a flirty friendship. 

With a dramatic turn of events, Louis fears that he is becoming too close to Rose, and he casts her out of his house for the Christmas period whilst his family visit. Visiting his childhood friend, Marie Taylor (Bérénice Bejo), Rose and Marie crash the Christmas celebrations, with Rose declaring that she is Louis’ fiancée with things continue swimmingly as the couple seem to venture into the next stage of their relationship.  After winning a National Typist competition, it seems as if things take a sudden turn for the worse, with Louis realising that he can’t give Rose what she wants, that she’ll be travelling. Of course, it wouldn’t be a French film without Rose declaring her love for Louis in a Parisian street, only to be rejected.Image

Heartbroken, Rose leaps into the world of Typewriter fame, perhaps half-heartedly, heading to America in order to take part in a Typewriting Contest in which she hopes to become World Champion. Meanwhile, Louis’ life has taken a turn for the worse and both parties realise that deep down, they do indeed miss each other. Rose, swept off her feet by the maker of a typewriter named after her,  is charmed by the fame and admiration that she has earned but it’s just not the same without the man who set her on this path to begin with. 

ImageDuring the World Championships in America, Louis arrives to watch his beloved Rose compete against the previous champion, the American Susan Hunter who intimidates Rose over the keys with a cunning put-down. The tension of Rose and Susan’s showdown is unbelievable- you wouldn’t believe that typewriting can leave you in suspense, but you can’t help but admire Rose’s determination, hard-work and effort to get to where she is in the competition and you can’t help but rejoice at her victory over smarmy Susan. 

Of course, like most Romantic Comedies, the end is sealed with a movie star kiss. What Populaire has over many other Romantic Comedies is the charming simplicity, the uncomplicated love story, the absence of love triangles and the power lays mainly in the female protagonist’s hands. Although the absence of a complicated love story may appear boring, Populaire charms us with its vintage outfits, characters you just can’t help but like and big dreams of a small town girl. Populaire is a perfect feel-good film which won’t leave you clawing for stronger female lead characters. 


killjoy – le rabat-joie

shredder – la broyeuse de papier (in the film, but can also be called la déchiqueteuse)

Do I look nervous?! – J’ai l’air nerveux?! 

Ball bearings – les roulements à billes

Typewriter – la machine à écrire 


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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.)



La Juive – the Jewess

La cicactrice – the scar



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Elle s’appelait Sarah

sarahs key

Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner

Based on the chilling novel by Tatiana de Rosnay which focuses on the 1942 Vel D’Hiv Round Up, Elle s’appelait Sarah manages to balance subtle horror with family ties.

Watching films about the Holocaust is usually a bad idea for me as I often end up as a blubbering mess by the end of it. However, Elle S’appelait Sarah (or Sarah’s Key) intrigued me: two stories of different lives weaving together – focused around one apartment.

Julia Jarmond (played by Kristin Scott Thomas), an American journalist living in Paris moves into the same apartment inhabited by the Starzynski family 60 years prior. Investigating the Vel d’Hiv round up of 1942, Jarmond discovers the story of Sarah who escaped the concentration camps in order to free her little brother from the cupboard she locked him when they were rounded up.

Michel and Sarah, rounded up 1942

Michel and Sarah, rounded up 1942

The beauty of Elle S’appelait Sarah lies in the delicacy in which it’s filmed. We do not see the majority of truly gruesome scenes: though it deals with death in a very matter of fact way. It also focuses on the kindness of strangers towards those in need. Sarah, teamed with her new friend Rachel, escape the camp thanks to one of the guards who helps them under the barbed wire, perhaps convinced by Sarah’s determination to free her brother from the closet. They come across an elderly couple who hide the two girls, until Rachel succumbs to her fever and dies shortly after being taken in. The elderly couple help Sarah find her way to Paris in order to save her brother.

Unlocking the cupboard

Unlocking the cupboard

We see how easily families can be torn apart in crisis. Not just literally as they were in the camps but also figuratively: Sarah’s parents – especially her father – chastise her for locking her brother in a cupboard in order to save him from the round up. Flashing forward 60 years and we see how the strain of what the apartment has become for Jarmond affects her relationship with her husband Bertrand Tezac (played by Frédéric Pierrot who you may also recognise as Jérôme from Les Revenants), whose family acquired the apartment shortly after the Starzynski’s were rounded up.

Delving through history, we skip through Sarah’s life as she grows up, trying to put the past behind her. The film, although focusing on guilt and shame, doesn’t feel heavy. We feel that eventually, Sarah is at peace and put to rest.

The acting is brilliant by all the cast: especially the younger actors. They manage to breathe life into an otherwise miserable and depressing time, keeping us hooked. Whilst our hearts are in our mouths, it’s the right level of nervousness, putting us in Sarah’s shoes as she desperately tries to save her younger brother.

The film is easy to follow though not for those who want to be fully immersed in a story: we are pulled from getting too attached to Sarah’s story as the film often flicks to Jarmond’s life. I would recommend it as an interesting and insightful watch, and is a relatively tame watch compared to films on the same subject such as The Boy In The Striped Pajamas. 



les projecteurs (m) – searchlights

ombre – shade

fil de fer barbelé – barbed wire

les papiers d’identité – identity papers

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17 Filles

17 Filles

17 Filles

Directed by Delphine and Muriel Coulin

Inspired by true life events which took place in Gloucester, USA in 2008, 17 Filles is the modern story of female solidarity, dreams and growing up, which entices us with its down-to-earth approach and amiable characters.

Lorient, France. 16 year old Camille finds out that she’s pregnant during a routine health check at school. Deciding to keep the baby, she receives more than enough support from her friends who form a pact – they will all get pregnant in order to stay together. The pact holds the girls together like glue. Although originally only 4 girls from the ‘inner circle’ decide to join Camille in her pregnancy, more and more girls join, forming friendships.

17 Filles depicts the idealistic values of the 17 girls – wanting to bring their children up together whilst staying in school. Camille tells her friends that she’ll have “two lives: one at school and one with the baby”, whilst the others nod in agreement. They also claim that the 16 year age gap is brilliant – they can connect with their children, much more than their own parents can connect with them. How hard could it be?

Standing in solidarity at the pharmacy

Standing in solidarity at the pharmacy

However, several dark undertones bring us down to earth at regular intervals. For example, one of the ‘younger’ characters, Clémentine (played effortlessly by Yara Pilartz) struggles with being the ‘baby’ of the group and longs to rid herself of her virginity, eventually offering to pay the father of her baby for sex. We also experience the wrath of Clémentine’s parents, who claim that she’s too young and that it’s dangerous for her to give birth. Whereas her mother weeps with despair, her father is angry.

As well as the hurdles which the main characters face, we’re also brought down to the harsh reality with the shots of minor characters sitting in their room, alone and worrisome. Here, we can only guess the thoughts which run through their minds: The severity of the situation or how they will tell their parents.

The characters of the 17 are instantly recognisable from our own school days. From the natural leader, the headstrong Camille, to the wannabe Florence who’ll do anything to be involved in the ‘cool’ group, we recognise our own friends and ourselves from the 17. We become attached to them, we understand their motives- whether it be out of loyalty or just to be part of something that’s going on.

Florence asks Camille for advice

Florence asks Camille for advice

The film, for me, is not about rebellion. Instead, 17 Filles depicts the lengths that girls will go to in order to help their friends, with severe consequences. The desire to prove themselves to others, to grow up quickly, to show how mature they are. For example, they pore over a book about pregnancy, whilst each of the inner circle offer something that they know already about pregnancy.

We watch as outsiders, swept up in their dreams of happy lives together, bringing up the children but shaking our heads in disbelief at the blasé attitude they adopt towards motherhood.

It could be argued that 17 Filles loses some of its realism due to the fact that the girls party a lot, drink and continue to smoke. However, it could also be argued that this adds to the realistic situation: the 17 either don’t understand the severity of looming motherhood or refuse to acknowledge it.

The film, however, lacks in certain areas. Although there are 3, possibly 4 strong main characters, I’d have preferred to see more of the other girls. I’d have liked for some other girls to have speaking parts, instead of staying silent and I’d also like to know how Clémentine’s relationship with her family works out.

Although 17 Filles is often compared to both Juno and Knocked Up, it’s necessary to remember that both Juno and Knocked Up are unplanned pregnancies. The 17 (apart from perhaps Camille – but we’ll never know for sure) decide to get pregnant. Because of this, it could be argued that 17 Filles is refreshing and oddly more realistic than both Juno and Knocked Up.



Dingue – Crazy, wild

J’en ai marre de – I am sick of

L’écographie (f) – the ultrasound

La couette – quilt, duvet

C’est le dernier de tes soucis – that’s the least of your worries





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