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Where the Heart Is More at IMDbPro »À la place du coeur (original title)

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A fine piece of storytelling and emotional sculpturing

8/10
Author: allyjack from toronto
25 August 1999

One of the most purely pleasing movies of the 1998 Toronto film festival - has the good heart of Marius and Jeanette without the excess idealism. Guediguian seems to have a truly benevolent view of people here, but it's clear-eyed; he doesn't beat the drum of social inequality but it's implicit in his choices - the one clear villain in this movie (with no redeeming counterargument) is the police chief who victimizes Baby. The movie moves easily between flashback and present day, unsentimental about the real but not blind love of the two; effectively portraying a wealth of secondary characters. When Ascaride takes off to Sarajevo to find the woman that accused Baby of rape, it's still as compelling, although almost like a fantasy breaking into the tight-knit primary world of the movie - one tends to read this sequence as something of an experiment lying aside Guediguian's central concerns. Having gone that far, one might (sentimentally) wish for a more well-rounded happy ending, but by then Guediguian's probably experimented as much as he'd want to - and that's fine; the calibration is fine as it stands. With countless affecting moments; this really is a fine piece of storytelling and emotional sculpturing.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A cry from some good hearts

Author: Philby-3 from Sydney, Australia
22 July 2000

Warm hearted, well acted, carefully observed and honestly presented film from the Marseilles school of social realism (`Marius and Jeanette' etc). It was nice to watch a French movie where the protagonists' relationship doesn't seem to be doomed from the start (as in `Une Liaison Pornographique', par example). She, Clim, is white and 16, he, Baby, is black and 18, and they have grown up together. The colour difference is fully accepted by friends and family (Baby and his sister have been adopted by a white couple)if not by the local bigots. The story is adapted from a James Baldwin novel set in the U S, `If Beale Street Could Talk', which I read many years ago and dimly recall as being fairly grim but this film is full of Mediterranean light.

The conflict is not so much between the central characters, all part of the polyglot working class of southern France, but the two families and, for want of a better word, the system, as represented by a loathsome racist cop, after Baby is accused of rape. But even the system works properly in the end, though the families have to hire a fancy lawyer to help get Baby out of jail. Perhaps more to the point, is that by sticking together and taking some initiative they save the situation themselves. Clim's mum takes on the apparently hopeless task of finding Baby's alleged victim in war-torn Saravejo and getting her to change her story. Along the way, several strangers, perhaps sensing the decency of these people are induced to act well themselves – Clim and Baby's erstwhile slum landlord lets Clim live rent-free while Baby is in jail, a Saravejo taxi-driver helps mum find the missing witness and the witness' brother turns out to be unexpectedly helpful in the end.

There are half a dozen luminous performances here, especially Laure Rauost as Clim, whose eyes we see the story through, Alexandre Ogou as Baby, and Ariane Ascaride, (Jeanette in `Marius and Jeanette') as Clim's mum Marianne). The two fathers, played by Jean-Pierre Daurroussin and Gerard Meylan are also delightful. There's little nudity and not a lot of sex and it's not obvious why it's being treated as an art film. Maybe it's the sub-titles. To me, this is great wholesome family entertainment for viewers from about 12-14 up, a welcome antidote to Disney pap. It was a shame to see it being watched almost entirely by affluent middle-aged art-film buffs.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A delightful mélange of charm, wisdom and romance.

9/10
Author: Michael Open from Belfast, NI
29 November 1999

Admirers of 'Marius & Jeannette' will not be disappointed by Guédiguian's latest film. This is arguably the finest 'Europeanisation' of an American novel of recent years. The film treats inter-racial relationships and racism in a totally natural and unforced way that brings out human values in a manner reminiscent of Renoir and a style reminiscent of Bresson(no qualitative comparison implied).

The easily followed flashback structure provides a near-perfect dramatic curve to a highly believable plot. And cementing it all together is the brilliant choice of well-known Liszt Nocturnes as music that is used in a totally unclichéd way.

Further evidence that the much-publicised reports of the death of the French cinema are greatly exaggerated.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The heart is no longer a lonely hunter.

7/10
Author: dbdumonteil
5 June 2003

Guédiguian tackles here a subject which Marcel Pagnol treated many times some sixty years ago:the pregnant girl and the fate of the soon-to -be born baby:"Angèle" (1934) "Fanny" (1936) and "la fille du puisatier" (1942)Both Guediguian's and Pagnol's works are set in the Provence .But the times have changed.

Once, being an unmarried mother was a shame,a curse and if the girl did not find a man to save her honor,she was outlawed from society(In Pagnol 's movies).

A young girl falls in love with a black young man and gets pregnant,but the poor boy is accused of rape .The parents' attitude is diametrically opposite to that of the people of the thirties:this baby is a hope,the only hope in fact,the only thing that prevents the jailed man from complete despair.In a very moving sequence ,à la "it's a wonderful life" ,the father explains how the baby's life touches so many other lives.Life is not rosy for these modest people but their struggle is noble and endearing:Ascaride's trip to Sarajevo is the center of gravity of the movie:she displays so much love,understanding,humanity and hope against hope that the audience feels relieved when she finally pulls it off.

Much less ambitious than "la ville est tranquille" ,"à la place du coeur" shows that sometimes ,the heart is not a lonely hunter anymore.Acting is uniformly good.The only flaw is the fascist cop,the one cardboard character of the whole film.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A remarkable film with a singular taste.

9/10
Author: Kerosene from Mexico
13 July 1999

They've been more than friends since that nail accidentally injured Bebe during their infancy. Clim (Clementine) and Bebe grown together. Inspired by the devotion of his mother he decided be sculptor. The immense love between them is more important than any racism prejudge and were constructing their lives like the usual young couples, unfortunately a policeman involved to Bebe into a crime against a tourist but the love and support of their parents that don't know limits through the adversities give to this film a singular taste.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Why doesn't Hollywood just give up?

Author: (oaknet) from Bristol
6 April 2002

This film is excellent, both in the scale of its main story, and in the fine details. The place, the men, the women, and the light upon them are all overwhelming. The light on the women makes them more beautiful than Hollywood's best. The scenes of Paris and Sarjevo evidence of our creativity and destructiveness. Consider the moment when two women meet on the landing of a block of flats. One speaks only French, the other Bosnian - yet they fully understand each other. It is one of those moments that elevates cinema to the world of literature.

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