1 of 3
2 of 3
La Sacrée lacks sparkle.
3 of 3
The Long Falling is one of fest’s best.
CINEFRANCO 2012 from Friday (March 23) to April 1 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. $8-$12, pass $99. All films subtitled. See Indie & Rep Film.
LA SACREE (Dominic Desjardins, Canada). 94 minutes. Friday (March 23), 7 pm. Rating: NN
The festival's Canadian-made opener should have more fizz. Slick con artist François (Marc Marans) is about to marry a wealthy cosmetics entrepreneur, but she wants to get pregnant, and he hides the fact that he's poor and infertile. At the same time, he schemes to get his small Ontario francophone hometown to begin brewing an artisanal beer that may have fertility-enhancing properties.
The two narratives never come together convincingly, and director Dominic Desjardins has a hard time making François likeable. There's some sharp satire about marketing small-town quaintness, but the movie falls flat, even with copious references to poutine and beer. GLENN SUMI
YOU DON'T CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY (Christian Clavier, France). 103 minutes. March 31, 6:15 pm. Rating: NNN
Christian Clavier's farce about a French lesbian (Muriel Robin) and her lover's silly brother (Clavier) posing as a couple to adopt a Thai orphan (Maily Florentin Dao) offers a gag every 30 seconds, and enough jokes hit their mark to make this a pleasant diversion.
Robin and Clavier make a terrific oddball couple, and the grizzled Jean Reno plays it straight as the doctor assigned to make sure they're legit. Things get complicated when the brother ends up in a Bangkok jail and his sister (Héléna Noguerra), a lawyer, swoops in to bail him out while also catching the attention of the widowed doctor.
Granted, some jokes - about Thai food or names - are in questionable taste, but this is a movie that gets laughs from a parrot that screeches "Fuck you." You've been warned. GS
MY PIECE OF THE PIE (Cédric Klapisch, France). 109 minutes. March 31, 12:30 pm. Rating: NNN
In an attempt at depth, the resolutely mainstream Cédric Klapisch (Un Air De Famille, Russian Dolls) tackles the global financial crisis the only way he knows how - as the basis for a romantic comedy. A laid-off factory worker (Potiche's Karin Viard) takes a job as a housekeeper for a shallow day trader (Little White Lies's Gilles Lellouche), and guess what? They learn something from each other!
Maybe it's unfair to fault Klapisch - a crowd-pleaser who's at his best when making ensemble-cast trifles like When The Cat's Away or L'Auberge Espagnole - for failing to understand the very real problems faced by French society in the face of corporate downsizing and outsourcing. He sees his characters on the most superficial levels; allegory and metaphor are well beyond him, although he names Viard's character France. NORMAN WILNER
THE LONG FALLING (Martin Provost, Belgium/France). 105 minutes. Monday (March 26), 8:30 pm. Rating: NNNN
Yolande Moreau reunites with Seraphine director Martin Provost for this grim character study about a long-suffering Belgian housewife who kills her abusive husband and then goes off to visit her son (Pierre Moure) in Brussels because she can't think of anything else to do.
The Long Falling's original French title translates as Where Does The Night Go, which better evokes the sense of dislocation and ambiguity with which the film regards Moreau's character. Is she enjoying her new freedom or doing her best to hide her crippling guilt? Moreau makes both interpretations valid at different points, and Provost once again demonstrates that he's the filmmaker who best understands how to mine the depths of his star's opaque acting style. NW
FREE MEN (Ismaël Ferroukhi, France). 99 minutes. Sunday (March 25), 6:30 pm. Rating: NN
The last few years have produced some terrific cinema about the French legacy in North Africa. This tale of a young Algerian Muslim who finds himself pulled into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris feels like an attempt to capitalize on the wave that included A Prophet, Of Gods And Men and Rachid Bouchareb's Days Of Glory and Outside The Law.
A Prophet's Tahar Rahim stars as a black marketeer who becomes an SS informant out of necessity, only to reconsider his decision once he's told to spy on a mosque that's getting Jews out of Vichy France by disguising them as Muslims. (Of Gods And Men's Michael Lonsdale plays the mosque's rector; Incendies star Lubna Azabal is also here.) It's a solid set-up, but the drama never quite catches fire
The arc of Rahim's character is so clearly telegraphed that all we do is wait for him to find his conscience. NW