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French films review - January 2019

A critical eye on the latest ciné releases

An Impossible Love, Catherine Corsini; 135 mins

The latest film from director Corsini is bigger in scope and ambition than anything she has made before and follows three generations of a family’s story from loved-up young mum to a grandmother.

The story is based on the 2015 novel by Christine Angot, who also wrote Claire Denis’ superb Let the Sunshine In, and is often seen on TV chat shows being something of a controversial provocatrice.

It begins in 1958, in Châteauroux, Indre where mid-twenties typist Rachel – a superb performance by Virginie Efira (normally a comic performer but whose serious acting skills get better with each film) falls for a dashing and intellectual young man, Philippe (Niels Schneider) that she meets in the work canteen. She falls pregnant and a daughter, Chantal (Estelle Lescure), is born. However, Philippe will not marry Rachel or allow Chantal to take his surname, which for the times is unsettling and bodes badly.

Over time, despite his manipulative nature, narcissism and absence, Rachel still holds a torch for him, while the now teenage Chantal gets ever closer to her father. Yet his increasingly dubious behaviour is never far from the surface.

A word of praise for the superbly naturalistic ageing make-up work on both Rachel and Philippe – they look very convincing as grandparents.

Also out

Sink or Swim

A disparate (and sometimes desperate) gaggle of 30-50-something men make a life change for the unexpected – by joining a synchronised swimming team. Cue a blend of farce and philosophy à la piscine!

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