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 »
China in the 1920's. After her father's death, nineteen year old Songlian is forced to marry Chen Zuoqian, the lord of a powerful family. Fifty year old Chen has already three wives, each ... See full summary »
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
At the risk of sounding like a quote whore, if I see ten films better than this one released this year, 1999 is going to be an excellent year. First time director Erick Zonca has made an absolutely stunning debut, which not only resonates while you watch it, but gets you thinking afterwards (for example, I didn't get that last shot right away, but after thinking about it, I did). And while there's a philosophical point to be made, this is not what I would call a "nothingness of being" movie, where the primary interest of the filmmaker would seem to be either lecturing the audience, or in self-indulgent symbolism. Instead, Zonca makes his points lightly and carefully, allowing them to build up for us later.
Of course, it also helps that he has the services of Elodie Bouchez and Natacha Regnier, who deservedly shared the Best Actress Award at Cannes last year(and if there's any justice, will be nominated for an Oscar this year). Bouchez's Isa is hooked on life, in a dreamy way, and is open to all the possibilities, yet she sees how fleeting it all is. Regnier's Marie, on the other hand, doesn't expect much from the hand she's been dealt, and enters a bad relationship because of it, but there's enough there that we desperately wish she could find the peace Isa wishes her near the end. I forget who said great acting is in the eyes, but Bouchez and Regnier certainly qualify there; you can see the life in Bouchez's, and the cold resignation in Regnier's. This is an outstanding film.
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