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by admin November 16, 2010

Last week, Montrealers overcame the language barrier to enjoy the variety of French movies at Cinemania, Montreal’s French film festival. No less than 30 films were screened at Cinéma Impérial, with English subtitles to reach a wider audience.

A touch of frivolity: Copacabana

The festival opener, directed by Marc Fitoussi is the movie that people just can’t seem to stop talking about. It has garnered acclaim at many international festivals this year. It created a buzz at Cannes and was named the official selection at the Semaine de la Critique.

Isabelle Huppert and her daughter Lolita Chammah costar in this delightful comedy, full of amazing performances. Babou (a brilliant Huppert) is a boho mom, eccentric and frivolous. She has spent her life without the security of a steady job, dragging her daughter Esméralda (Chammah), from one country to the next. One day, she has to face the consequences of her free-spiritedness when her daughter is too ashamed to invite her to her wedding. To convince Esméralda of her reliability, Babou moves to the northern town of Ostend, Belgium to sell timeshare apartments. In the unusual setting of a resort town in the winter, Babou tries to win her daughter’s love back by being the kind of mom she always wanted: serious, quiet and normal. But despite her best efforts, her bohemian personality gets the best of her good intentions, to Esmeralda’s chagrin.

The conclusion of Copacabana is predictable, but after watching Babou’s endearing efforts to redeem herself in the eyes of her conservative daughter, who would not want a happy ending? After all, the conclusion isn’t as important as the emotions felt in the relationship between mother and daughter. The kind-hearted, sincere Babou touches our hearts. Coupled with the thrilling, extraordinary performance of Huppert, that makes this film a real success.

Copacabana will be in theatres on Nov. 19.

Horrors of war: La Rafle

Roselyne Bosch presented her second movie as a director at this year’s edition of Cinémania. La Rafle is a drama based on the events that took place in the summer of 1942 in Paris while under German occupation. On the morning of July 16, more than 13,000 Parisian Jews, including 4,051 children, are arrested. They are packed into the Vel d’Hiv (the Vélodrome d’Hiver stadium) under precarious conditions for two days before being deported to the Beaune-La-Rolande transit camp and ultimately to Auschwitz concentration camp. None of those arrested on the morning of July 16, 1942 who were deported to Auschwitz survived.

La Rafle is deeply moving film. Supported by the brilliant performances of the main cast, which includes veterans such as Jean Reno, Gad Elmaleh and Mélanie Laurent, as well as newcomer Hugo Leverdez, Bosch’s film is constituted of key moments which will be remembered long after the screening. In a long and noisy scene, screaming and crying mothers are packed behind the soldiers after being separated from their children, who are trying to reach out to their moms with tears streaming down their cheeks. In another, you see a shot of men being pushed onto the train. The train cars, which were made to hold eight horses, are packed full with 40 men. The doors close with a thump.

La Rafle will be in theatres on Dec. 17.

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