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Garrel, Egoyan leave audience divided

Latest update : 2008-05-23

As the Cannes Film festival nears its end, two films were presented in competition Thursday evening, both leaving the audience divided. The films question traditional values of family and love, and paint a sombre picture of contemporary life.

'La frontière de l'aube' ('The Dawn Shore'): Philippe Garrel


After introducing “Les Amants Réguliers” (“Regular Lovers”) in 2005, French director Philippe Garrel graced the red carpet at Cannes Thursday with “La frontière de l'aube” (“The Dawn Shore“), starring his son, Louis Garrel. 


The film, a treatise on love, narrates two successive entanglements of the main character François (Louis Garrel). The first is a passionate affair with Carole (Laura Smet), whose husband leaves her behind for a career in Hollywood. Their love is portrayed as impossible, intimate and sensual, put to an end by Carole's death. 
François's second affair comes a year after, and represents a "bourgeois" conception of love and marriage. François is engaged to Eve, an emotionally fragile girl from a rich family who is pregnant with his child. Social obligation compels François to forget his lost love for Carole and settle down with Eve. 


One cannot help retain the splendid black and white photography of the film, reminiscent of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman's work with celebrated photographer Sven Nykvist. However, technical brilliance aside, the torment that Garrel tries to create with his heavy mise en scène seems a little forced. 

When the dead Carole comes back as an apparition and tries to make François kill himself, so that they may continue their lost love in the other world, the spectator is left unconvinced. The story takes a turn for the macabre, a mood incompatible with the deep and ponderous tone that the earlier part of the film sets. 

What’s wrong with French cinema?


After the screening, conversations centred around the same subject - what is wrong with French cinema today? The last time France won a Golden Palm was 21 years ago. While French funds finance thousands of foreign directors in a noble quest to discover new talent, the rules of the game seem different on home territory. Most contemporary French films seem obsessed by literary metaphors and character portrayals that are too theoretical. But the directorial effort in these films (“La frontière de l'aube” included) is truly commendable. Good directors, but films that do not quite make the mark - does the French cinema structure need a re-evalutaion ?


While scratching's one head on the answer, Cannes waits for the last few films to be screened. To be sure, “La Frontière de l'aube,” along with Arnaud Desplechin's “Le conte de Noël,” may not go unrewarded at Cannes, as is often the case with French films. But the Golden Palm? Unlikely. 



Also read a review of Atom Egoyan’s “Adoration”


Check out web correspondent Arnab Banerjee’s video blog



Watch the entire show by clicking "The Cannes Reports" in the right column.



22/05/08 The rise and fall of Che Guevara

21/05/08 'Lorna's Silence' - the Dardennes nearing saturation?

19/05/08 Sociological phenomenon or just a movie ? 

17/05/08 Critics are eyeing a French palm d’or 

16/05/08 Cannes openers set somber tone 


Date created : 2008-05-23