A blizzard of cloying sentiment not to be confused with Hollywood's like-titled Hemingway adaptation from 1952.

The sweetest young orphans one could possibly imagine get saved by a middle-class Marseille couple in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” a blizzard of cloying sentiment not to be confused with Hollywood’s like-titled Hemingway adaptation from 1952. Inspired by a Victor Hugo poem, French director Robert Guediguian (“The Army of Crime”) returns to the small-scale work with which he began his career in 1980, ladling on the syrup in an ingratiating bid to melt bourgeois hearts. While Ariane Ascaride and Jean-Pierre Darroussin are endearing enough as the middle-aged do-gooders, the forecast calls for “Snows” to fall mainly in Gaul.

Implausibly contrived to rhyme with Hugo’s “How Good Are the Poor,” pic has its happily marrieds turning the other cheek after they’re tied up, beaten and robbed by the orphans’ downtrodden older brother, Christophe (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet). Guediguian may intend to salute, per Hugo, the goodness of the poor. However, as Christophe remains callously unrepentant for the crime (while his siblings remain merely adorable), the film favors a couple that’s underemployed but sufficiently comfy to give money away. Super 16 lensing lends the obligatory hint of grit to a classy production.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Production

A Diaphana Distribution release of an Agat Films & Cie, La Friche Belle de Mai, France 3 Cinema production, with the participation of Canal Plus, Cine Cinema, France Televisions, Cineimage 5, La Banque Postale Image 4, Soficinema 7, Cofimage 22 and the support of the Alpes Provence Cote d'Azur Region, Centre National du Cinema, L'image Animee. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced, directed by Robert Guediguian. Screenplay, Jean-Louis Milesi, Guediguian.

Crew

Camera (color, Super 16-to-35mm), Pierre Milon; editor, Bernard Sasia; music supervisor, Pascal Mayer; production designer, Michel Vandestien; art director, Vandestien; costume designer, Juliette Chanaud. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 14, 2011. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Gerard Meylan, Maryline Canto, Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet, Anais Demoustier, Adrien Jolivet, Robinson Stevenin, Karole Rocher, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Pierre Niney.

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