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Café de Flore (2011) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • A love story about people separated by time and place but connected in profound and mysterious ways. Atmospheric, fantastical, tragic and hopeful, the film chronicles the parallel fates of Jacqueline, a young mother with a disabled son in 1960s Paris, and Antoine, a recently divorced, successful DJ in present day Montreal. What binds the two stories together is love - euphoric, obsessive, tragic, youthful, timeless love. In 1960s Paris, a working class woman gives birth to her first child, Laurent - a Down Syndrome son. Undaunted she embraces the challenge of raising her beloved offspring as normally as one would any other child. Her husband abandons them both. She bravely brushes this additional hiccup aside as Laurent replaces her spouse as the perfect man of her dreams. As Laurent approaches school age Jacqueline's aplomb becomes obsessive and cloying. Her increasingly self-destructive attachment to her son is raised to a fever pitch when, at the age of seven, he meets a Down Syndrome girl (Véronique) and experiences his first crush. His sudden desire for independence, and his attraction to Véra, are the catalysts that transform Jacqueline from a loving mother into something resembling a lover scorned. What emerges is a love triangle of potentially tragic proportions. In 21st century Montreal, a forty year old divorcée, Carole, is trying to restart her life after her divorce, two years earlier, from Antoine, a devastatingly handsome, successful touring DJ. Soul mates who've been a couple since the age of fifteen, their divorce is a schism that might prove impossible for either of them to put in the past. Making the transition even more difficult for Carole is the fact that her two daughters, one teen, one tween, are about to gain a stepmother, a stunningly beautiful, heartbreaking blonde, a woman about to "steal" away the perfect man of her dreams. The young girls are being cruelly pulled in two different directions, Antoine's father, a recovering alcoholic, seems to side with his ex-daughter-in-law, and Carole is succumbing to fits of depression and potentially dangerous bouts of sleepwalking. What emerges is a love triangle of potentially tragic proportions.

  • A love story between a man and woman. And between a mother and her son. A mystical and fantastical odyssey on love.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Healing a broken heart isn't easy. Sometimes it takes a lifetime...or two. Cafe de Flore is a love story about people separated by time and place but connected in profound and mysterious ways. Atmospheric, fantastical, tragic and hopeful, the film chronicles the parallel fates of Jacqueline, a young mother with a disabled son in 1960s Paris, and Antoine, a recently-divorced, successful DJ in present day Montreal. What binds the two stories together is love - euphoric, obsessive, tragic, youthful, timeless love. Antoine, early 40s, seems to have it all: a thriving career, two beautiful daughters, partner Rose, with whom he is passionately in love. However, nothing is perfect and Antoine's ex-wife Carole remains devastated by their recent separation. Heartbroken, her sense of self has been shattered and her hold on reality has been gradually slipping away. Her dreams are haunted by two recurrent figures - Jacqueline, a young woman, and Laurent, her Down Syndrome - afflicted son - but the reason for their visits to her subconscious, and their meaning continue to elude her. We find Jacqueline and Laurent in 1960s Paris. Abandoned by her husband, Jacqueline sacrifices everything to care for her son. From the moment Laurent is born she promises herself to give him a "normal" life full of happiness. For years she fulfills that promise, joining herself at the hip to her son and watching over his every waking moment. One day at school Laurent befriends Véronique, another Down Syndrome child, forever changing things between mother and son. Carole, meanwhile, is still attempting to unravel the mystery of Jacqueline and Laurent. She sees them not only in her dreams but in her waking life too. Tormented by hallucinations, Carole attempts to suppress them with medication and illicit drugs before seeking out the help of a spiritual guide who leads her to believe that Jacqueline and Laurent are previous incarnations of her and Antoine who are attempting to send her a warning. When she senses Jacqueline and Laurents story could end tragically, Carole realizes she will have to choose a different path. In that moment, she has to decide whether the agony of heartbreak is too much to bear or if she can let go of her pain and move on with her life. The title "Cafe de Flore" refers not to the famous Boulevard St-Germain café, but to a musical theme running through the film that connects the characters in 1960s Paris to those in present-day Montreal. Blending smooth electro beats with the retro sounds of big band strings and horns, the music sets the tone for a story about love in its many forms.

    Jean-Marc Vallée

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