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
Think of desperate couples in cinema and you conjure up Joe Buck and Ratzo from "Midnight Cowboy" or "Thelma and Louise". After seeing the beautifully done French film, "Dreamlife of Angels", you must add Isa and Marie to that list. "Dreamlife of Angels" triumphs because it is a story simply told and acted with such real-life honesty that you feel intimately tied to the main characters by film's end. It also helps that it is filmed mostly with a hand-held camera giving close ups and studied portraits of two people's alienated lives. Isabella is twenty-one, moving from town to town with all her worldly belongings on her backpack, intelligent yet strangely without much of a future. Marie is the same age and in the same rut, seemingly without any anchor herself although she does have a flat she is 'house-sitting' since the mother and daughter occupants have been involved in a tragic auto accident. They want to chain smoke their way through life, devoid of wealth and ambition. There is much insight into their broken lives when Isa remarks that her father left her mother for another woman when she was young while Marie counters that having separated parents is better than to have an abusive father living together with her victimized mother. The title of this film suggests an angelic life but it is clear from their bleak existence that it is a wish and a yearning rather than reality. Isa and Marie do get to share each other's misery. And their desire not to follow the cookie cutter mode does unite them for awhile (the film makes pointed references to a sewing factory and an electronics workplace where everyone is doing the exact tedious chore). However Marie falls prey to her blind passion to love and be loved and cannot tolerate the conscience personified by Isa. For it is Isa that nags about loyalty to friends, about the scoundrel boyfriend Chris who will only break her heart and about a bond of fidelity toward Sandrine, hospitalized in a deep coma and someone Isa knows only from reading her personal diary. "Dreamlife of Angels" could have passed as another soap opera if not for the genuine performances of Elodie Bouchez as Isa and Natacha Regnier as Marie. Their smiles and grimaces are heartfelt and it is their portraits which illuminate a most telling story of love, betrayal, and finally resignation.
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