From the Land of the Moon
Cert: 16; Now showing
It’s way past the time that someone should have made a film about abortion. The topic that has bubbled under and over for decades has remained remarkably undiscussed in Irish cinema.
Until now. Tom Ryan directs his own screenplay, a short, sweet and to-the-point drama that handles a potentially difficult topic really well without fuss or melodrama.
Maggie (Iseult Casey) tells her dad (Pat Shortt) that she is heading up to Dublin with Andy (Shane Murray-corcoran) and they take the scenic route from Tipperary to Dublin via their entire back-story.
Shy Andy fancied Maggie long before inviting her to the debs’ but the wait was worth it and in college in Dublin they enjoy a happy relationship. But Andy has issues to deal with in his father (Ardal O’hanlon), issues about which he doesn’t confide in Maggie and the secrets don’t lead anywhere good.
The sheer smoothness of the older actors does highlight a certain stiltedness in some of the younger performers but otherwise it’s a very feasible, believable depiction of the potential reality for many people.
The relationship between Andy and his dad is perhaps the most affecting one in the film and there are lots of layers even though it comes in at under 90 minutes.
Interestingly, it felt like it could have been set anywhere in the last 30 years and I really liked the tone of the film and how it dealt with the subject.
Cert 16. Now showing in IFI
Nicole Garcia’s tremendously French version of the Italian novel Mal di Pietre (the literal translation, ‘Kidney Stones’, lacks romance) trades heavily on the notion of great love equals great pain. And who better to channel a love-tortured heroine than Marion Cotillard?
Gabrielle (Cotillard) is a young woman (MC looks too old for this part) in rural Provence in the 1950s. She has a huge crush on the local married teacher and when he doesn’t reciprocate, she reacts melodramatically.
Sensing her daughter’s impetuousity will lead to the worst possible outcome, sexual expression, the mother pays a Catalan labourer Jose (Alex Brendemuhl) to marry Gabrielle, who agrees, because her choice is Jose or an institution.
Gabrielle’s trade-off is that there will be no sex, so Jose frequents prostitutes instead, until she decides she can do the same job for the same fee.
Unfortunately, and to its detriment, the story abandons this rich potential in favour of a love story with a dying man (Louis Garrel) who fulfils every tragic hero cliche. Also, Gabrielle is essentially selfish, and exploring her addiction to being a tragic heroine might have been more interesting than studying her actually being a tragic heroine. The ending is pretty ridiculous but overall it’s engaging if taken as melodrama.
Cert: 15A; Selected cinemas
Rarely does a film see-saw between tedium and inspiration quite as wildly as this truly original Cannes contender from writer-director Bruno Dumont.
Just as you near the end of your patience with an item of slapstick farce, something weird and wonderful straight out of a Kevin Mcsherry painting comes into the frame to transfix you.
Indeed, you’d never confuse Slack Bay’s aesthetic for any other. Dumont bleaches the colours slightly and exaggerates the smallest idiosyncrasies of his dotty cast of caricatures by the summery sand dunes of northern France in 1910.
The bourgeois Van Peteghem family — husband and wife Fabrice Luchini and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, ex-wife Juliette Binoche and her cross-dressing son — are on summer holidays.
Two detectives (a more surrealist take on Laurel and Hardy) have also come down from Calais to investigate disappearances that may or may not be linked to a twisted local rural family.
The shenanigans oscillate from dark and distorted to joyously daft but they may prove too wilfully eccentric for some viewers. Others, however, may find delight in such gay abandon.