Preview: Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2020

Lead Critic; Brooklyn, New York (@floatingartist)

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema returns in March with another edition that exemplifies the variety and vitality of contemporary French filmmaking. The films on display, by emerging talents and established masters, raise ideas both topical and eternal, and take audiences to entirely unexpected places. Co-presented with UniFrance, the 25th edition of Rendez-Vous will demonstrate that the landscape of French cinema is as fertile, inspiring, and distinct as ever.

This year, the festival opens with Kore-eda Hirokazu's TheTruth (coming out in theaters on March 20), starring Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche as mother and daughter in a family drama. It also showcases new films from Bruno Dumont, Christophe Honoré, Cedrick Klapisch and legendary director Claude Lelouch. Below are some of the films I was able to sample.

The festival runs from Friday, March 5 through March 15 at Film at Lincoln Center. Expect some interviews from me as well throughout the festival.

On a Magical Night/Chambre 212 - Christophe Honoré

Maria (Chiara Mastroianni) is a law professor who sleeps around with her younger pupils, even though Richard (Benjamin Biolay, a French singer/music producer who is a Benicio Del Toro doppelgänger), her husband of 25 years, is a good man. She just woke up in bed with one of her student named Asdrubal Electorat, just because his name aroused her. Richard finds out the affair by seeing her busy chat app on the phone. Avoiding the confrontation, Maria goes over to a hotel next street to stay the night.

There she is visited by several people from her past, including young Richard (Vincent Lacoste), his first love/piano teacher Irene(Camille Cottin), her Charles Aznavour-like own will (Stéphane Roger) and dozen of her former lovers over the years.

In true Honoré fashion, On a Magical Night is a musical fantasy steeped in whimsical comedies of old Hollywood and his love for cinema: the setting is snowy winter Paris, Maria and Richard live above a movie theater, piano singalong serves as reconnecting with one's past, obvious studio set mise-en-scene, etc.

Honoré's contemplation of memories, love and marriage are delightfully captured by great ensemble cast with his usual muses - Mastroianni and Lacoste). It's a great fun film to get away from the wretched reality.

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