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A Friendly Tale
A superb all-star quartet in stellar form leads the terrific new comedy of manners from Daniel Cohen, the story of life-long friends whose loyalties to each other are unexpectedly tested.
Life loving 40-something Lea (Oscar nominee Bérénice Bejo, The Artist) works in retail, and is happily married to Marc (Vincent Cassel), a conservative and somewhat insecure salesman. Lea has long been considered a dreamer by her know-it-all best friend Karine (the inimitable Florence Foresti), who seems content enough with her advertising executive job and life with gentle giant Francis (François Damiens) and their two kids. But something is about to upset the intricate balance of this quartet.
Over dinner one evening, Lea unexpectedly announces she is trying her hand at writing a novel, a declaration met with some bemusement; Marc is certainly unconvinced. Lea’s burst of creativity triggers an apparently threatened Karine to pick up her own pen, and even Francis dusts off a long-abandoned artistic side. When Lea’s book is picked up by a major publisher great things seem assured, if only her friends and husband can handle it…
Mon 21st June | 10.45am Book
Antoinette in the Cévennes
An Official Selection of the 2020 Cannes International Film Festival, writer/director Caroline Vignal’s hilarious and life-affirming romantic comedy stars the wonderful Laure Calamy (Call My Agent!, Sibyl) as a woman who finds herself on a journey of self-discovery in somewhat unexpected circumstances.
40-something primary school teacher Antoinette (Calamy) has been eagerly looking forward to a long-planned weekend escape with married lover Vladimir, the father of one of her pupils. However, their plans are upended by his wife’s booking of a surprise hiking trip in the picturesque Cévennes mountains in the South of France. Completely unversed in the ways of the wilderness, the spurned Antoinette impulsively decides to follow them, and once paired with an unlikely companion – an obstinate but evidently wise grey donkey named Patrick – discovers much, much more than she bargained for...
Carried by the remarkable Calamy and her scene-stealing co-star, Vignal’s wonderfully mischievous film offers both its lead character and audiences an uproarious and poignant reminder of the virtues of independence, and that the journey, not the destination, is often the reward.
Sun 20th June | 11.00am Book
The wickedly entertaining new film from writer/director Marc Fitoussi (Folies Bergére), Appearances is a sexy, Chabrol-esque marital thriller, featuring the sensational Karin Viard in one of her most vivacious roles.
The setting is Vienna. Ève (Viard), Henri (Benjamin Biolay) and their young son are among the entitled bourgeois community of wealthy French expatriates. They move amongst “la crème de la crème”; she as the CEO of the city’s Institut Français, he as a prestigious conductor who flitters across Europe, always in first class. It’s a seemingly flawless life, until the day Éve begins to suspect Henri of infidelity with her son’s primary school teacher (Laetitia Dosch). Absolutely desperate not to lose face, Éve engineers a dangerous double game, all the while preserving the façade of a happy marriage…
Tailor-made for its indomitable star, thirteen-time César nominee and three-time winner Viard completely inhabits the skin of a woman unafraid of callousness in her quest for affection, financial security and, most of all, status. Expertly stripping away the varnish of privileged social circles, Fitoussi’s darkly comic and playful thriller winks at its genre forbears whilst tightening the screws. It’s an unashamed and cinematically luxe slice of entertainment for adult audiences.
Mon 21st June | 7.30pm Book
If you’ve never seen Breathless, now is the time. If you have, then you’ve never seen it like this: newly restored in 4K and projected on the big screen in all its ground-breaking brilliance. Sensual, thrilling and effortlessly cool, Breathless changed cinema forever.
After shooting a policeman, petty criminal Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) attempts to lay low with his American girlfriend, aspiring journalist Patricia (Jean Seberg), who is unaware of what he’s done.
Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard from a treatment by François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol, Breathless is one of the most iconic films from the revolutionary French New Wave period of the late 1950s and 1960s. Inspired by American crime dramas, but completely rejecting the Hollywood approach to film style and storytelling, Breathless bursts with infectious and defiant energy that is just as subversive and joyful today as it was in 1960.
Not just a masterpiece of French cinema and not just a classic from the French New Wave, Breathless is simply one of the greatest and most influential films ever made, appearing at number 13 on the 2012 Sight and Sound Greatest Films of All Time poll.
Bye Bye Morons
Winner of 7 César Awards, including Best Film and Best Director!
This crowd-pleasing film by writer/director/actor Albert Dupontel (See You Up There) blends dark humour, social satire and tragedy into a frenetic and fast-paced story that leaves audiences delightfully giddy by its twists and turns. As a testament to its wildly entertaining characters and plot, Bye Bye Morons conquered the French box office in 2020 despite being released at the height of the curfews.
Suze Trappet (Virginie Efira, Sibyl, An Impossible Love) doesn’t have long to live and she is going to make her last remaining days count. Determined to find the son she was forced to abandon almost three decades ago, Suze sets out on a madcap quest that is filled with adventure, peril and bewildering encounters.
While the whirlwind and borderline absurd style of the film delivers a series of glorious over-the-top comedic set-pieces, Dupontel ensures his film never loses its heart and embeds his characters with genuine empathy amid all the chaos. Dupontel himself is particularly endearing as Jean-Baptiste, who becomes one of Suze’s closest companions. Exhilarating, poignant and hilarious, this urban comedy is a refreshing blast of anarchic energy.
Sun 20th June | 1.00pm Book
Biographical drama is one of French cinema’s most established and beloved genres, and Gabriel Le Bomin’s spectacularly-mounted De Gaulle stirringly depicts a crucial period in the life of one of the most famous (if not infamous) figures in the nation’s modern history, doing it enormous justice in the process.
It is May 1940, where the war between Germany and its neighbours has intensified. Shockingly, the French army collapses, and Hitler seizes Paris. The government is in panic and considers accepting defeat, but recently promoted two-star General Charles de Gaulle (The Translators’ Lambert Wilson, in a career-best performance), wants to change the course of history...
His wife, Yvonne (Isabelle Carré), is his first support, but very quickly events spiral out of control and separate them - she and their children set out on the roads of exodus, as Charles travels to London to meet with Winston Churchill. He wants to make another voice heard: that of resistance.
Matching the impact and scale of recent war dramas The Darkest Hour and The King’s Choice as it depicts crucial incidents in gripping tick-tock fashion, Le Bomin expertly mixes the historic and the Romanesque, charting both a military debacle and the eventual revelation of a destiny. De Gaulle is filmmaking on a grand scale, with an impact to match.
Wed 23rd June | 10.45am Book
Éric Besnard’s mouth-watering new film (in the grand tradition of Chocolat and Big Night) is set in 1789, just prior to the Revolution, when gastronomy is strictly the domain of the aristocrats. When the talented but prideful cook Manceron (Grégory Gadebois) serves an unapproved dish of his own creation at a dinner hosted by the self-entitled Duke of Chamfort, the repercussions are brutal, and he is promptly dismissed. Wounded, Manceron retreats with his son to a regional inn visited only infrequently by travellers, and where vegetable soup is the common meal. When a mysterious woman (Isabelle Carré) arrives and offers to pay to become his apprentice, the stage is set for a wildly enjoyable tale of reignited passion, mentorship and revenge... and of the creation of France’s very first restaurant
Tue 22nd June | 6.15pm Book
The iconic Eiffel Tower proudly stands on the Champ de Mars in the heart of Paris as a beacon of French artistry and ingenuity. But what do we know of Gustave Eiffel, the engineering genius to whom the wrought-iron lattice tower is named after? This lovingly detailed biopic recreates Paris in the late 19th century to tell his story, as the New Zealand premiere of the biggest French production of 2020.
Having already achieved international recognition for his work – which included the framework for the Statue of Liberty – Eiffel was in high demand. He wanted to design the Paris Subway, but the French government had other ideas: they wanted something special for the 1889 World’s Fair. Initially struggling for inspiration, everything changes when Eiffel encounters a mysterious woman that he once knew many years ago.
An all-star cast that includes Romain Duris (The Spanish Apartment) as Eiffel and Emma Mackey (Netflix’s Sex Education) as Adrienne Bourgès, the woman from his past, lead this gorgeous historical film, inviting audiences to be swept away by the passion and brilliance behind the creation of France’s greatest cultural icon.
Sun 27th June | 3.00pm Book
How to Be a Good Wife
The sparkling new comedy from César-winner Martin Provost (The Midwife, Seraphine).
It’s 1967. The immaculate and morally upright Paulette Van Der Beck (the ever-exquisite Binoche) and her husband Robert have been running Van der Beck’s School of Housekeeping and Good Manners in the lush regions of Alsace for over two decades, with the help of Paulette’s eccentric stepsister Gilberte (Moreau) and the school’s communist-fearing, ex-Resistance nun Marie-Therese (a scene-stealing Lvovsky). Their mission: to train teenagers to become perfect housewives, in times when women were expected to be largely subservient.
After an accident turns clockwork order into chaos, Paulette discovers that the school is on the verge of financial ruin. Forced to assume executive responsibilities, she is flustered even more by an encounter with her long-lost first love, André (Edouard Baer), who becomes relentless in his desire to rekindle their romance. Meanwhile, a sweeping nationwide protest movement is transforming society around them, encouraging the school’s pupils to challenge authority and question their own desires and beliefs… Before long the entire group undertakes a journey of liberation, one that will transform all their lives.
Striking a near-magical tone that’s both satirical and tender, this tale of solidarity looks set to become one of the year’s biggest comedic hits.
Mon 21st June | 5.15pm Book
Direct from the Cannes Film Festival, Love Affair(s) embodies many classic tropes of French cinema, by combining witty dialogue with emotionally resonate truths thatwill have you laughing, crying, yearning for romance and swearing off love forever. As its name would suggest, Love Affair(s) follows a series of interlocking tales of relationships and affairs, which have been described as ‘a more serious Love Actually’.
At the centre of it all is Daphné (Camélia Jordana), a pregnant woman whose boyfriend has left her alone in the French countryside with his cousin Maxime (Niels Schneider, Sibyl), who is nursing a broken heart. As Daphné and Maxime share stories of love gained and love lost, they become increasingly intimate with each other in the seclusion of the country house.
The tales range from the sensual to the frivolous, the profound to the ridiculous, and the comedic to the thoughtful. Throughout all the twists, emotional detours and unexpected connections, Love Affair(s) is an entertaining and surprising exploration of the complexities of modern love that will satisfy romantics, cynics and anybody in between who has ever experienced the messiness of love and desire.
Sun 20th June | 5.00pm Book
Only the Animals
Evelyne Ducat (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) has gone missing. Following a snowstorm, her car is found on the road to a rural French plateau where a few isolated farms struggle to survive.
While the local gendarmes look for answers, five people, each of them somehow linked to the woman’s disappearance, try desperately to protect their secrets. But none of them suspect that the whole story began far from the windswept French highlands, on another continent where the sun beats down and where poverty can drive people to extremes.
Dominik Moll’s sophisticated French thriller Only the Animals watches quietly as an all-star cast are connected by desire, fear, ambition, poverty and murder.
Tue 22nd June | 8.30pm Book
Emmanuelle Devos (Read My Lips) and Gregory Montel (Call My Agent) shine in this fragrant French drama.
Anne Walberg (Devos) was once the star of her industry – a perfumer whose ability to produce enticing new fragrances was second to none and which saw her rise through a competitive landscape. She remains in demand, but her intemperate behaviour has made her difficult. However, striking up an unlikely friendship with her equally troubled new driver, Anne sees a way to return to the top, which might offer a solution to both their problems.
Grégory Magne’s intelligent drama is a visual and sophisticated treat.
★★★★ “A quietly delightful French comedy” - The Times
★★★★ “Enchanting” - The Irish Times
★★★★ “Admirably refreshing” - The Guardian
Skies of Lebanon
A poetic blending of the personal and political, Skies of Lebanon combines live action with animation to create a vivid picture of Lebanon, inspired by the family history of filmmaker Chloé Mazlo. Using stories told to her by her grandmother of life during the Lebanese Civil War, Mazlo crafts a touching and heart-breaking story of love during wartime.
Alba Rohrwacher (Happy as Lazzaro) plays Alice, a Swiss woman who moved to Beirut in the 1950s and falls in love with a Lebanese man. Wajdi Mouawad (author of the play Incendies, which was the source material for Denis Villeneuve’s 2010 film) plays Joseph, an astrophysicist with dreams of sending his fellow citizens into space, and the object of Alice’s affection. Joseph and Alice appear to lead the perfect life until their bliss is ripped apart by the civil war and nothing will be the same again.
An official selection for the 2020 Cannes International Critics’ Week, Skies of Lebanon stunningly gives shape to the emotional undercurrents felt by the characters through the use of animation. This rewarding and quietly devastating cinematic experience announces Mazlo’s arrival as an important new talent.
Wed 23rd June | 1.00pm Book
The Big Hit
Inspired by remarkable true events, award-winning Emmanuel Courcol’s rousing, Cannes-selected film follows a dedicated out-of-work actor (indelibly played by the fabulous Kad Merad) whose life takes an unexpected career turn.
Disillusioned thespian Étienne (Merad) reluctantly accepts an arts rehabilitation job, leading a theatre workshop group at a correctional facility under the watchful eye of cautious warden Ariane (Marina Hands). His program attracts a motley group, and Étienne, surprised by the raw talent, comes up with the idea of workshopping Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”. To the surprise of many, the play’s themes prove to be a natural fit for the inmates, and the connection between the cast and their kind-hearted director grows stronger with every rehearsal, though not without some very unexpected ramifications…
To spoil what develops would be criminal, but when the story of the real troupe’s experiences went viral, Beckett himself commented: “That’s the best thing that happened to this play since I wrote it!”.
Inscribed with intelligence and humour, The Big Hit was named Best Comedy of 2020 at this year’s European Film Awards. It’s an empathetic and hugely entertaining celebration of camaraderie, and the liberating power of art.
Tue 22nd June | 10.45am Book
The Man in the Hat
The Man In The Hat sets off from Marseilles in a small Fiat 500. On the seat beside him is a framed photograph of an unknown woman. Behind him is a 2CV into which is squeezed Five Bald Men. Why are they chasing him? And how can he shake them off?
As he travels North through France, he encounters razeteurs, women with stories to tell, bullfights, plenty of delicious food, a damp man, mechanics, nuns, a convention of Chrystallographers and much more. And always, on his tail, the Five Bald Men.
As the Fiat 500 wends its way across the mountains, gorges and bridges of France, the 2CV hard behind him, the Thin Man (Ciaran Hinds) comes face to face with the vivid eccentricities of an old country on an old continent.
★★★★ "It's quirky and touching, and if you want to travel but don't want to travel, then off-the-beaten-track France will do your heart good." - RTÉ
"...a picturesque odyssey across the French countryside, the best Provençal driving holiday you’ve never had." - The Guardian
"Beautifully made, sumptuously shot and a definite change of pace from the hectic bustle of blockbuster cinema." - HeyUGuys
Wed 23rd June | 6.00pm Book
The Rose Maker
The magnificent Catherine Frot (Marguerite) takes centre stage as Eve, a world-renowned rose farmer dealing with hard times. In this easy-going and good-natured comedy, Eve allows herself to reluctantly accept help from an unlikely source and by doing so, discovers new aspects of life that are worth nurturing.
Eve used to be content living almost in complete isolation to focus on her passion of growing roses. When financial ruin threatens her business and livelihood, desperate measures are required. The solution comes in the form of three new workers, who are recruited cheaply from a back-to-work program. There’s just one small problem: they know absolutely nothing about growing roses, or really anything at all. Eve is going to have to tend to a lot more than just her rose bushes to keep her head above water.
Funny and kind-hearted, The Rose Maker makes full use of casting veteran actor Frot alongside a diverse ensemble of emerging actors to play the hapless farmhands; emphasising how underneath all the obvious differences, there is a shared humanity and the potential for friendship.
Sun 20th June | 3.00pm Book