In Lille, two penniless young women with few prospects become friends. Isa moves in with Marie, who's flat-sitting for a mother and child in hospital in comas following a car crash. Isa is ... See full summary »
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In Lille, two penniless young women with few prospects become friends. Isa moves in with Marie, who's flat-sitting for a mother and child in hospital in comas following a car crash. Isa is out-going, unskilled, with hopes of moving south to warmer climes. Marie usually is either angry or detached. Then, while Isa begins to visit the child in whose flat they live, going to hospital to read to her, Marie slowly falls for a rich youth. At first Marie keeps him at bay, then she not only pursues him, she begins to dream he is her life's love. When Isa tries to warn Marie, their friendship flounders. How will Marie handle the inevitable? And once they lose the flat, where will they go? Written by
"The Dreamlife of Angels," a Haunting Slice of Life that Features Acting At Its Finest
The reason to watch "The Dreamlife of Angels" is to see how an accomplished and talented actor makes a movie come to life and seem absolutely real, for that is what both Elodie Bouchez and Natasha Regnier achieve in this film. Which performance is better? Upon several viewings, one must conclude that it is a draw. Bouchez's Isa opens the film as a wandering street urchin searching for a warm place to spend the night in Lille, a town in northern France. You feel sorry for her because she has no one but herself upon which to depend and roams around trying to find a decent situation, but her appearance and behavior are a tad off-putting and you can understand why no one is falling all over themselves to help her out. Once she does land a place to live with her alienated and terminally pessimistic workmate, Marie, she begins to blossom, gradually at first, ultimately being transformed into a lovely, sensuous, introspective, and vastly intuitive young lady who is a pleasure to watch. The key to her transformation is the security she has found, her budding friendship with Marie, and the comatose patient, Sandrine, whose apartment they share while she is in the hospital recovering from the accident that killed her mother. For the helpless Sandrine, Isa fully expresses her generous, optimistic nature, and with her care and attention, ultimately saves the girl's life. Sandrine, for her part, has given Isa exactly what she needs -- a secure place to live, the companionship it provides in housemate, Marie, and someone worse off than she had been who needs her help to survive.
The high point of the film is one scene between Isa and Marie, wherein the two young women are discussing Isa's relationship with Sandrine after she confesses that she found the comatose patient's diary and had read it to her aloud in the hospital, hoping to wake her up. More than at any other point in the movie, we now see how beautiful these two "unexceptional" girls really are, the depth of their characters, and the poignance of their perceptions, despite their youth. Watch Bouchez's facial expressions closely. This naturally attractive actress is so subtle, but no doubt the cameraman should be given some of the credit, too, for it is he or she who captured it all on film.
Regnier's performance is of an entirely different sort. She is such a sad young woman, so full of anger, pride, dignity, and spirit but utterly defeated by the world going in. She fully understands and appreciates the scope of its cruelty and has almost resigned herself to never being happy, yet she keeps trying. The last time she tries is when she pins all her remaining hopes on the stinking, arrogant little bastard, Chris, whose perennially smug expression practically demands a well-deserved punch in the face. He is the quintessential spoiled brat who has been totally sheltered from the seamier realities of life and always gets what he wants (or he will throw a tantrum). I've known many people of this sort, for they are an all-too-common breed, and am always appalled at the depths to which they will sink, their absence of shame, and the complete lack of insight they possess concerning the simplest of life's enduring truths. Nevertheless, they populate this earth like a bunch of selfish, sadistic cyborgs, ruthlessly dominating the less-advantaged and the underprivileged in the pursuit of shallow (if widely-recognized) achievements, seeking relief from the inevitable pressures they encounter with transient, ephemeral pleasures. They remain convinced that their money, their homes, their cars, their jobs, and their "perfect" children somehow totally define their worth, which of course, just ain't so, yet at any suggestion of this inconvenient fact, they may become truly dangerous and are capable of almost any turnabout or betrayal, however low and despicable. This "winner" Chris, therefore, is a corrupted, suppurating sore on the ass of humanity, although nobody but the "losers" Isa and Marie have the guts to put him in his place. Unfortunately, Marie falls in love with him, despite her knowledge of what a crumb he is, and is thus rendered powerless to defend herself against his predatory nature, sacrificing herself in his stead. Isa finally rebukes him soundly for the thoughtless way he has toyed with Marie's emotions before casting her aside. Like a total coward, he actually expects Isa to inform Marie that their affair has ended because he cannot face her, and the slap he receives is little more than a slap on the wrist. He slinks away wearing the same stupid, self-satisfied grin we have come to expect. In the scenes where Marie seeks his company, knowing full well that she likely will be taken down yet another notch, the distraught, pained look in her childlike eyes is intense. Probably her best scene is when her competition, a pretty but shallow French snob (the sort of conceited blonde tart one used to see in ski lodges flirting with the owner), dares to insult her right in front of Chris. Marie suddenly jumps her and gives her the all-too-brief ass-kicking she so richly deserves. Regnier is dead-on as the spirited, take-no-sh** Marie and her untimely demise is very sad. At least Isa, who isn't so proud about what she must do to make a meager living) is able to carry on, and just before Regnier is sacrificed, Sandrine emerges from her coma and is going to live. The ending is therefore mixed but hopeful, and a haunting song is played as Isa starts a new, more promising job and the credits roll.
This is a poignant movie that demands repeated viewings.
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