After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
David O. Russell
Robert De Niro
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Muriel Santa Ana,
A story that follows a New York woman (who doesn't really have an apartment), apprentices for a dance company (though she's not really a dancer), and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possibility dwindles.
Bahia Benmahmoud, a free-spirited young woman, has a particular way of seeing political engagement, as she doesn't hesitate to sleep with those who don't agree with her to convert them to her cause - which is a lot of people, as all right-leaning people are concerned. Generally, it works pretty well. Until the day she meets Arthur Martin, a discreet forty-something who doesn't like taking risks. She imagines that with a name like that, he's got to be slightly fascist. But names are deceitful and appearances deceiving... Written by
Don't argue with conservatives, sleep with them instead
You will never change your political opponents' minds by arguing with them, but what if you have sex with them? Baya Benmahmoud (Sara Forestier) lives her life by this mantra. She is an ultra-leftwing idealist who sleeps with right wing fascists to convert them politically. She even keeps a scrapbook of her successful conversions; most of them are now some sort of shepherd. While listening to bird-flu expert Arthur Martin (Jacques Gamblin) in a radio station one day, Baya bursts through the studio's door and argues with him on the air that if you can't trust ducks, then what is this world coming to? This is a very amusing argument and also makes for a humorous lead character introduction.
Any other film, such as an American one, would construct Arthur as a rock solid conservative and make it Baya's quest to convert him. Ah, but this is an intelligent French film. Arthur is a socialist and while not nearly as leftwing as Baya, he proudly states he voted for Lionel Jospin. A warning: if you do not know who Lionel Jospin is, you will miss an amazing and funny scene. The Names of Love takes a sharp turn from where the film was leading the audience. It is not a romantic comedy, well, not all the way. Much screen time is devoted to Baya and Arthur's respective families and to what extent they identify themselves as French citizens.
Baya's father is from Algeria and vividly remembers the French Army shooting many of his relatives in the war. Her mother is a hippie who thinks everything non-French is fascinating which is why she marries a man with the last name Benmahmoud. Arthur's folks at first appear to be the exact opposite of the first couple and are shown boring and set in their specific way of life. However, there is a lingering secret past with Arthur's mother which is not necessarily hidden from view, but takes on more of a role as the film progresses.
The Names of Love starts out at a fast clip with both leading characters taking their turns talking directly into the camera about their youths and where they imagine themselves on the political spectrum. After a half hour or so, this starts to taper off and a more somber and contemplative mood takes over what was almost a comedic farce. Arthur and Baya are shown interacting with each other's unfamiliar cultures and testing their respective boundaries. The script is whip smart and expects a lot from its audience, especially from its non-French audience. I give a high mark to how intelligent and probing this film is, but be wary of the shift from light comedy to more serious introspection.
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