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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 ...Written by
The first story is set in present-day Montreal and centers on a recently divorced father of two girls, Antoine Godin (Kevin Parent), who leads a successful life as a professional DJ. Despite having found true happiness in his relationship with his girlfriend Rose (Evelyne Brochu), he feels a little remorseful for having left his ex-wife Carole (Hélène Florent), for whom he still cares deeply. Antoine understands that she continues struggling to move on with her life, heartbroken. And to make the situation in which they find themselves even more difficult, their eldest daughter persistently plays their nostalgic love song with hopes of reuniting her parents.
The second story is set in Paris in 1969 and focuses on Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis), a self-sufficient, loving single mother who becomes the embodiment of perseverance and selflessness as she promises to devote herself both physically and spiritually to her son Laurent, who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. She spends every minute of spare time with her beloved young boy with the goal to elongate his limited life expectancy. One day, when Laurent begins to be infatuated by Véronique, a new girl in his class-- who, incidentally, also has Down syndrome-- Jacqueline is struck by an overwhelming feeling as she fears that her inseparable bond with the only person she loves will be be lost with time.
Up until the very end of the film, it seems like the only link between both stories is the music the characters listen to (the jazz album "Café de flore" appears in the second story while a certain remix is featured in the first one), but as we progress further into this mystical mystery, we learn that there is something much deeper tying together the characters and their stories of love and loss.
Knowing that "Café de flore" would be composed of intertwined stories, I was initially a little reluctant to seeing it and very worried that its structure would collapse within the first few minutes of the film. To my pleasant surprise, this modern approach to storytelling proved to be ultimately rewarding. I believe credit is due to the film editor, who is-- believe it or not-- Jean-Marc Vallée, again. It's nice to hear that he had control of almost every visual aspect of his own work of art. With Vallée's perfectly orchestrated editing, the audience is able to follow the story without ever sensing an abrupt switch between story lines. In the film's entirety, not once did I feel that some scenes were fragmented or disjointed from others. Vallée always progresses deeper into his creation by carefully and seamlessly shifting between narratives just at the right time, creating a smooth, fluid tempo. Briefly, everything flows like a river.
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