Dramas of the Rendez-Vous festival

Lineup mixes arthouse films with big budget fare

This year’s Rendez-Vous lineup reveals two recurring trends of contemporary French cinema: intimate, character-based dramas that have been the mark of Gallic films for decades, and bigger, more commercial-minded genre fare aimed at international markets.

The former is best repped by Christophe Honore’s “Making Plans for Lena” and Alain Guiraudie’s “The King of Escape,” whose offbeat rhythms, improvised performances and easily recognizable styles make them the latest descendants of the French New Wave. Pics such as Stephanie Brize’s “Mademoiselle Chambon” and Laurent Perreau’s “Restless” also belong to this more subdued, actor-driven category.

On the other side, there’s the opening night entry, Christian Carion’s Cold War thriller “Farewell,” featuring a multilingual cast topped by helmers Emir Kusturica and Guillaume Canet; “OSS 117: Lost in Rio,” the latest in the popular ’60s spy spoof series, budgeted at €20 million; and the WWII network narrative “The Army of Crime.”

While such currents may seem mutually exclusive, two debuting features — comicbook artist-cum-helmer Riad Sattouf’s original teen comedy “The French Kissers” and multihyphenate Axelle Ropert’s well-crafted Jewish dramedy, “The Wolberg Family” — prove otherwise. Alongside Xavier Giannoli’s social epic, “In the Beginning,” they reveal a new generation of filmmakers willing to tackle popular genres with their own personal touch.

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