Preview: Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2014 Packs A Punch

Lead Critic; Brooklyn, New York (@floatingartist)
The 19th edition of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Unifrance Films' celebrated annual showcase of the best in contemporary French film, hits screens at The Film Society, the IFC Center and BAMcinématek in New York, March 6 - 16. 

It consists of 24 feature films making their New York, United States or North American premieres. The lineup includes new works from established masters like Bertrand Tavernier, Agnès Jaoui, François Ozon, and Jacques Doillon; critics' favorites Serge Bozon, Michel Gondry, and the Larrieu brothers. Alongside these known names are the key figures of what has been called France's next New Wave: a whole raft of emerging talents, including first- and second-time directors Ruben Alves, Sébastien Betbeder, Guillaume Brac, Thierry de Peretti, Katell Quillévéré, Axelle Ropert, Justine Triet, and Rebecca Zlotowski. And as the original New Wave was very much a boys' club, it's worth noting that nearly half the films in this year's selection were directed by women.

The series opens with Emanuelle Bercot's On My Way, with the venerable Catherine Deneuve, and closes with Bertrand Tavernier's In the Loop style comedy, The French Minister. For tickets and more info, please visit
the Rendez-Vous website.

Click through the gallery below to read more about some of the titles I had a privilege to have a sneak peek at.


Absolutely amazing. Love Battles doesn't have any lofty goal of bearing one's soul through acting or anything. But it's definitely not some skin-deep psycho-sexual drama. What I know of Doillon's films is that he gets unbelievable performances out of his actors. The two main actors, Sara Forestier and James Thiérrée, give all with incredible ferocity in physically demanding roles. Forestier plays a young woman whose father just passed away. She is battling with her siblings for inheritance. All she wants is a worthless old piano. She has some serious daddy issues. She visits her older neighbor (Thiérrée) to inform him of her father's death. She has a certain respect for this neighbor because he once refused her advances. She regards him as an equal and worthy opponent. Under the pretense of finding out why he didn't take advantage of her when he had a chance, she provokes him to a physical fight. He, taking the bait this time, assumes the role of an instructor for rough-housing sessions. They jab at each other sharply: her accusing him of too much self-esteem and him insinuating that deep down, she is not fighting him but her daddy.

These extremely physical brawls go on forever, leaving them with bruises and scratches (real ones). She wonders if she is falling in love.

Without any pretense of the usual psycho-sexual, destructive movie relationship, the couple engage in these loaded, violent encounters day after day. The attraction and sexual tension are palpable between them.

Doillon achieves something truly remarkable here with the help of fearless performers, especially from pint-sized Forestier who is a force of nature. Definitely an early contender for my favorite film of the year.

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