French films review – March 2020

French films and essential viewing for cinéphiles. This month ‘Amanda’ and ‘Les Vétos’

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Amanda, Mikhaël Hers; 107 mins

This moving, small-scale character piece, though superbly acted, has something of the TV film about it.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it points to a DVD rental rather than a cinema outing.

The impact of its subject – grief and post-loss healing following a (fictitious) terrorist attack in the capital – is all the more powerful for the pre-tragedy ordinariness of the lives which it touches.

Early scenes depict the mundane, if simple and happy, life of a young Parisian, David (Vincent Lacoste).

He works a few part-time jobs, pays visits to his sister Sandrine (Ophélia Kolb) and her seven-year-old daughter Amanda (Isaure Multrier). Meanwhile, things are looking promising in the romance stakes with Léna (Stacy Martin).

But on the day he is due to meet Sandrine and Léna in the park, horror strikes.

Amanda is left motherless, and David is faced with either becoming her guardian or passing on the responsibility.

At the heart of the film’s pass-the-hankies emotional core are the intensely believable exchanges between the little girl and her uncle as they wade through grief.

Vincent himself is barely more than a boy, and he can but clutch at suitably humane and mature responses to the girl’s difficult questions over the family’s loss and forever changed dynamic.

The gentle portrayal of David reconstructing a semblance of a normal life for Amanda, shown as a series of daily hurdles, makes it all the more believable.

Watch the trailer:


Les Vétos (The Vets)

Warm-hearted comedy drama about a newly trained female vet who responds to the call to help save her uncle’s rural practice in the Morvan mountains.