‘Chinese Puzzle,’ Duris, Forestier, Luchini, Provost

Critics opine on French movies’ B.O. prospects, perfs and who really gave a good interview at the UniFrance Rendez-vous

PARIS – The 16th UniFrance Rendez-vous gathered 150 journalists from Europe and beyond to screen screeners and conduct interviews with the makers and stars of the latest crop of French films now rolling out across the world. Variety asked a clutch of them to opine – something that’s in their DNA – on which title at the junket had the best box office prospects in their territory, the best performances in a junket film, and – at time when UniFrance is tubthumping for thesps to put their backs behind the promotion of the films they star in, who was really good value in an interview. The poll is no Variety Rendez-vous Awards, but it tips its hat to some potential box office hits, in relative terms, and engaging perfs on and off the screen.

RICHARD MOWE, CINEFILE, U.K.

BEST B.O. PROSPECTS

This has to be “Chinese Puzzle” which scored highly with audiences when it was previewed at the French Film Festival UK in November. There is a ready made fan club awaiting the final part of the “L’auberge espanol” trilogy. and it has Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris who can do no wrong with U.K. audiences.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR

Best performance by an actor has to go to the no-holds -barred pairing of Christophe Paou and Pierre Deladonchamps in “Stranger by the Lake”: Both deserve plaudits for their courage in taking roles many actors may have shunned for fear of the controversy.

ACTRESS

Best performance by an actress has to be Juliette Binoche revealing her soul as “Camille Claudel” in Bruno Dumont’s film – rarely has she been seen in such an emotionally searing role.

INTERVIEWEE

Beatrice Dalle undoubtedly gave the best and most unguarded interview of the Rendez-vous by talking scurrilously about everything and everyone in a way that undermined traditional French reserve – even though she appears in “Les Rencontres d’apres minuit” (You and the Night) for only five minutes. She was also enjoying herself immensely – and her mood was infectious. A great performance by any yardstick – never mind the film.

CHRISTIAN JUNGEN, NZZ AM SONNTAG, SWITZERLAND

B.O. PROSPECTS

“Chinese Puzzle”: A Parisian in New York who gets told “Il faut baiser“ by Cecile de France is irresistible for Swiss audiences. A lighthearted comedy which looks on transatlantic cultural differences with a wink.

ACTOR

Romain Duris in “Chinese Puzzle”: He plays an awkward, but likeable guy in the tradition of Jacques Tati.

ACTRESS

Sara Forestier : The actress plays the title character in “Suzanne“ as a wild cat, she’s the shooting star of French cinema and will soon direct a picture starring the other shooting star: Adele Exarchopoulos.

INTERVIEWEE

Martin Provost. After talking 30 minutes to the director of “Violette”, I felt as intelligent as after three years of literature class. I went straight to the bookstore and bought ”La batarde” by Violette Leduc.

DOMINIK KAMALZADEH, DER STANDARD. AUSTRIA

B.O. PROSPECTS

“On My Way,” the Catherine Deneuve-starrer directed by Emmanuelle Bercot.

ACTOR

Fabrice Luchini, the co-star of “Cycling With Moliere.”

ACTRESS

Sara Forestier, seen in “Suzanne” and “Love Battles.”

INTERVIEWEE

Jacques Doillon, talking about “Love Battles,” which he directed.

CHRISTIAN MONGGAARD, INFORMATION, DENMARK

B.O. PROSPECTS

“Family Matters,” by Nick Quinn. It’s a broader comedy about getting older, and getting to terms with getting older, which has some of the elements of “The Intouchables.”

ACTOR

Romain Duris, in “Chinese Puzzle.” He’s always a pleasure to watch. He is charming. He knows how to act comedy, has perfect timing, but also knows how to act drama. He never abandons his characters, he takes them seriously.

ACTRESS

Marine Vacth, the lead in Francois Ozon’s “Young & Beautiful.”

INTERVIEWEE

Martin Provost, talking about “Violette,” with Emmanuelle Devos as French feminist writer Violette Leduc. Provost is very generous, he likes talking about his thought process, his images, how he works with his actors. Also, “Seraphine” and “Violette” are close as films, about two women who are at odds with their times and their society.

SUSAN VAHABZADEH, SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, GERMANY

B.O. PROSPECTS

Asgar Farhadi’s “The Past”: A great melodrama, with wonderful performances by all three leading actors, that should appeal to audiences.

ACTOR
Fabrice Lucchini in “Cycling With Moliere.” What a clever way of turning a play into a film without actually turning a play into a film. Lucchini is brilliant as an Alceste of today.

ACTRESS

Catherine Deneuve in “On My Way,” showing that emotions don’t change with age, falling in love is always falling in love.

INTERVIEWEE

Francois Cluzet, who has just had worldwide success with “The Intouchables” and remained down to earth and realistic.

MARTIN BILODEAU, MEDIAFILM, CANADA

B.O. PROSPECTS

“9 Months Stretch”: A very rich, original and fiercely droll point of view on the masquerade of Justice.

ACTOR

Albert Dupontel in “9 Months Stretch”: Comedy and tragedy wrapped up in equal parts in one unique character.

ACTRESS:

Sara Forestier in “Suzanne”: the most truthful and understated performance, without any gloss or showiness.

INTERVIEWEE

By far so far, Albert Dupontel: inspired, curious about others, natural and generous.

LUIS MARTINEZ, EL MUNDO, SPAIN

BOX OFFICE POTENTIAL

“Venus In Fir,” by Roman Polanski. The film’s an authentic “tour de force” which once more demonstrates the director’s consummate style and craft when moving in enclosed spaces. “Carnage,” his prior film, was a rotund hit in Spain. Also, Polanski’s always worked in Spain. Just the mention of his name provokes respect and, even a certain morbid fascination. Beyond that, my favorite film was “Stranger By the Lake,” a bet which, via its frontal chronicle of sex and honosexual love most probably won’t have a much of a chance at the box office in puritan, prudish Spain. I hope I’m wrong.

ACTOR

Fabrice Luchini in “Cycling With Moliere.” Few actors can command so many different registers in one and the same shot as Luchini can: From intense drama to out-there comedy via the best rendition possible of Moliere’s verse. Theater in film that serves equally as a reflection on an actor’s craft.

ACTRESS

Sandrine Kiberlain. She carries an out-there somewhat weak comedy such as “9 Months Stretch,” and surprises with her intensity and the certainty of her performance as Simone de Beauvoir in “Violette.” An uncommon actress who brings together the best of two worlds: the depth of “auteur” interpretation and the naturalness of mainstream cinema.

INTERVIEWEE

Christophe Paou y Pierrre Deladonchamps from “ Stranger By the Lake,” Few actors have proved so open when speaking in detail about their work and at the same time able to take on board the full dimension and sense of a film. And don’t forget we’re talking about one of the most controversial and sincere films of the year.

ENDS

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