Rachel, shy little 9 year old, loved by her father and stifled by a possessive mother, meets Valérie, a fearless and shameless girl of her age. With her new friend, she engages to profanity, indecency and nonsense, and opens up to life.
Superficial people are revealed and drastically changed by circumstance or luck in this a tale of death, seduction, blackmail and theft among British and Americans in Florence in the ... See full summary »
Kristin Scott Thomas,
Laura is still waiting for Prince Charming at the age of 24. So when Sandro appears at a party, exactly like her Prince would in her dreams, she thinks she's found the right one. But then ... See full summary »
Damien is a professor of Chinese civilization. Just now he has a problem: he has promised Iva, his life companion, to ask his father Sébastien, a state councilor, to intervene in favor of Zorica, an illegal alien. In theory, Sébastien Hauer is influential enough to keep Zorica from being expelled from France but the trouble is that he has always despised his son. As for Damien, he hates his old man. It looks as if Zorica is not on track to stay in the country for much longer... Written by
The first thing that needs to be said about this film is that the Hortense of the title is not a woman or a girl. Hortense is the surname of a high official in the French Government, named Henri Hortense. The French title is CHERCHEZ HORTENSE, and the translation LOOKING FOR HORTENSE gives a wrong impression, and also fails to convey the urgency of the French title, since 'look for' is passive whereas 'search for' is more accurate. The film stars Jean-Pierre Bacri, who looks rumpled, worried, unshaven and at his wits' end for most of the film, although this is intentional. His wife is played by Kristin Scott Thomas, brilliant as usual, but this time looking haggard, distracted, unkempt, and hopeless, which is also intentional. The other lead role is played by Isabelle Carré, as the young Croatian immigrant named Zorica. Scott Thomas is having a serious mid-life crisis and behaving irrationally, and is in the grip of a manic addiction to tobacco which is so extreme that everyone in the film criticises her for it, and when she cannot find her cigarettes and is desperate for a fag, she cannot focus on any other comments or subject, but is wholly obsessed with the need for a smoke. She allows her marriage to go to pieces without appearing to have the slightest rational grip on reality anymore. She has a disgusting brother, with an even more disgusting girlfriend, who when visiting slip into the bathroom to have a quickie and emerge with satisfied grins on their faces and their hands still all over each other. Seriously sleazy. The film is a savage satirical critique of French officialdom, and of modern French life, frankly. The film is directed by Pascal Bonitzer, who in 2003 made another film about a mid-life crisis entitled SMALL CUTS (PETITES COUPURES), in which Kristin Scott Thomas also appeared. Apart from Scott Thomas, the most brilliant performance in this film is undoubtedly by Claude Rich, as Bacri's father. How does he do it? One's jaws drop as he drolls out his outrageous lines, such as: 'Am I homosexual if I sleep with men?' He is a senior judge and is the quintessence of hauteur. One of my favourite French actors, Philippe Duclos, plays a magnificent cameo as the high official Hortense, dripping with icy politeness and hypocrisy. Duclos is familiar as the lean and harried hater of official corruption, 'Monsieur Juge', to those like myself who are admirers of the police series SPIRAL (ENGRENAGES, which could creatively be translated 'all tied up in knots', 2005 onwards, see my review). Much of the pointed satire in this film is likely to be lost on people who are unaware of how corrupt France is. The story is a rambling one, without much in the way of structure. It more or less concerns the plight of Zorica who is about to be thrown out of the country for lacking a visa. As the characters in this film all go to pieces, they seem to tie themselves up in knots to an increasing degree at the same time. In other words, while unravelling, they also ravel. Think of it as Tesla's alternating current.
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