Reviews written by registered user
|2 reviews in total|
With its main two female stars, it's location shooting (it's mainly filmed in Brazil), I would have expected MORE than just a rather superficial entertainment from «Le Fils du Français» («The Frenchman's Son»). Alas! it's almost not at all involving. For instance, one of the two grand mothers (played by Josiane Balsko) is an unsympathetic character: she's rude and a thief and a cheat at cards, and the French (improvised) guide is not much better: he's loud and vulgar. Although this effort from Gérard Lauzier does have some undeniable qualities, such as it's fast moving scenes, it's good photography, scenery and acting, it also fails in its hesitation at being a film of a certain given category: is it supposed to be a comedy? a (very vague) social comment on racism or xenophobia? a study of conflicting characters ? I think that it's mainly the adventures of two grand mothers and their young grandson looking for the boy's father, mostly in the Brazilian outback and jungle. There are a few interesting scenes such as the one when the trio, lost in the wilds, is surprised at night by a roaming jaguar. But even then, the outcome of this «frightening» episode (which I won't reveal), though unexpected and almost unbelievable, is supposed to be funny. Another interesting but short-fused but at first very promising episode occurs when the two women (unawaringly) are chosen to be the wives of two native chiefs. Again, the outcome failed to give me the excitement I expected. As for the always exquisite Fanny Ardant (somewhat of a casting error since she looks too young to be the mother of a man in his thirties), as far as I'm concerned (specially if you're one of her fans), her presence alone would be enough to incite you to see that movie : she reveals another facet of her talent... and charm, in a new kind of restrained part. By the way, this movie shows the often seen natives in their natural habitat and in their almost full nudity. In short, not a bad movie but not a very good one either: with its stars, it's location, I would have expected a more «consistant» effort : I found that one of it's most important failings is the expected clashes between the two very different grand mothers -- which turn out to be very mild, to say the least - and which could have been exploited in a much, much better and much more interesting and funny way !
"Alexandria...New York" is a sort of rich panoramic summing-up, or a
multi-faceted "idealized emotional mirror", of the life of a legendary
film director --- fictitious and, at the same time, a double of Mr.
Youssef Chahine. Due to a "nest of dolls" plot, it unfolds on many
levels: the past (in Alexandria) and the present/future (in New York),
the father and the son, the «younger» father and the «older» father,
etc. Its length of two hours passes quickly, an indication of its
Despite the title, very little is seen of the two cities (most scenes were shot in the studio), but the "spirit of the places" (according to Lawrence Durrell's expression --- another Alexandria lover with his memorable "Quartet") is always present. Incidentally, Durrell is mentioned in the film.
Mr. Chahine's confidence in his subject is real and justified --- contrary to what certain critics may think. Also, the story of the "hidden and discovered son" is pertinent in relation to the film's overall structure.
In this beautiful film, there is also a lyricism in the score, the touching songs and quite a few well-staged "eastern-western" dances, a good-natured sense of humor, a beauty and a sensuality in certain passages: beautiful faces, sensual and intimate scenes, and, on one occasion, an astonishing although quite modest scene: it is rather rare in the movies to see a woman "adoring" her beloved man's body, starting with his feet !
There is also a little-known excerpt from "Hamlet," a reinterpreted scene from Bizet's "Carmen", an extract from the final scenes of one of Mr. Chahine's first masterpieces (in which he played, himself, an important role), and more.
Despite some rare flaws (a few overexposed scenes, a dark-haired and totally unlikely Rita Hayworth), this film is a great one!
I say it and repeat it: Bravo! Mr. Youssef Gabriel Chahine, you remain young at age 75!