Cinemania report, part 3

LE DOUX AMOUR DES HOMMES 89

Existential dread never felt so good! Womanising Parisien poet Raoul (Renaud Bécard) might be bummed down by his hedonistic lifestyle, feeling like he’s “hollow” and only “mimicking life”, but I found the film full of life and beauty. There’s not much of a story beside how Raoul starts questioning his ways, wondering whether he’s capable of love even as he becomes completely enamored with pale little Jeanne (the adorable Claire Perot, in her first film role), a very sexually forward and unpredictable young woman with drug problems.

Writer-director Jean-Paul Civeyrac, freely drawing inspiration from “Penses-tu réussir?” (a novel by 19th century writer Jean de Tinan, a dandy who died at 24), puts aside storytelling and filmmaking conventions, shooting in video in a non-intrusive, naturalistic style and letting the characters breathe and party and love to the extent they can (or can’t) without chaining them down to three-act plot structure. I could have done without the pseudo-philosophical voice-over, which seems there only to justify “artistically” this inconsequential sex/love story, as if making a wonderfully lyrical and sensual film was not a noble venture on its own. Sure, “Le doux amour des hommes” is a bit naïve, but that’s what’s so goddamn endearing about it.

JOJO LA FRITE 44

A fun if uneven little comedy with a very quirky sense of humor, “Jojo la frite” tells the story of hyperactive Raph (Didier Becchetti) and dopey Swan (Fred Saurel), a pair of hobos who hustle their way through life, willing to pull any cheap trick to make a few bucks. Their careless existence is troubled when Swan accidentally rescues fragile girl Camilla (Mélanie Thierry) as she’s being robbed and is rewarded by becoming a saint, shiny halo and all!

Nicolas Cuche’s movie starts out promisingly, with a lot of rhythm and irreverence. Saurel and Becchetti are both amusing and they have great chemistry together. They’re like Lenny and George in “Of Mice of Men”, down-on-their-luck but true friends nonetheless. The film is cartoonish and unkempt, but entertainingly so. The film loses some steam when it makes an uneasy transition into pathos. Camilla is abused by the owners of the strip joint where she works while “Saint Swan” is exploited as well, forced into performing miracles to sell T-shirts. There’s also a love story between the two, but it’s not very convincing. “Jojo la frite” has its moments, but it’s not as successful as it could have been.

AND THE AWARD GOES TO…

I’m very happy to report that the Mel Hoppenheim Audience Prize has been awarded to Yves Lavandier’s “Oui, mais…”, incidentally my favorite film of the festival. Coming in second place was Coline Serreau’s excellent “Chaos”, which is set to be released in the US early next year.