Private Property (2006)

Private Property Pascale on bed

★★★★☆

Belgium/France. Directed by Joachim Lafosse / Written by Joachim Lafosse and Francois Pirot / Cinematography by Hichame Alaouie / Edited by Sophie Vercruysse / Starring Isabelle Huppert, Jeremie Renier, Yannick Renier, Kris Cuppens, Raphaelle Lubansu, Patrick Deschamps, Sabine Riche.

Don’t miss out on Joachim Lafosse, an outstanding director who has yet to receive his due, not helped by poor availability of his films. Private Property is one of them, a bleak domestic piece de chambre in which all norms of a successful family life have been sacrificed and replaced, inevitably, by an alienating and annihilating self-centredness. The silent partner in the film is a manorial farmhouse over which destructive battles rage.

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Hadewijch (2009)

★★★★☆

Hadewijch at prayer

France. Written and directed by Bruno Dumont / Cinematography by Yves Cape / Edited by Guy Lecorne / Starring Julie Sokolowski, Karl Sarafidis, Yassine Salime, Brigitte Mayeux-Clergot, Luc-Francois Bouyssonie, Marie Castelaine, David Dewaele.

One of a recent string of films about the religious life, Hadewijch tells the story of a young novice nun who has named herself after an ascetic Flemish medieval mystic. She craves a father who is also a Saviour and a chaste lover, falling into dire straits as a result of her need to belong. The resurrection of Hadewijch as she reaches a final point of despair is a triumph.

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The Son’s Room [La Stanza del Figlio] (2001)

★★★★☆

the-sons-room Costa

Italy. Directed by Nanni Moretti / Screenplay by Nanni Moretti / Cinematography by Giuseppe Lanci / Edited by Esmeralda Calabria / Production design by Giancarlo Basili / Music by Nicola Piovani. Starring Nanni Moretti, Laura Morante, Giuseppe Sanfelice, Jasmine Trinca and Sofia Vigliar.

Dealing with extreme loss in a family, Nanni Moretti’s The Son’s Room is an inimitable blend of lightheartedness and humour and an intelligent and deeply felt exploration of how circumstances conspire to change our lives, and how grief can actually be coped with and turned to advantage under the threat of unrequited melancholy. Moretti’s acting lends a poignant naturalness and the outcome is hardly to be expected. Read More

Three Monkeys (2008)

★★★★☆

Three Monkeys the couple

Turkey. Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan / Written by Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan & Ercan Kesal / Cinematography by Gokhan Tiryaki / Edited by Ayhan Egursel and Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Starring Ercan Kesal, Yaruz Bingol, Hatice Aslan, Ahmet Rifat Sungar and Cafer Cose.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s fifth, accomplished feature Three Monkeys is that pure kind of film, conceived as the excavation of a single theme – the human capacity for silence and corrupting self-delusion – to which the considerable art of the director and his ensemble is unerringly directed. Ceylan elevates his tale from melodrama to the stature of an archetypal parable for our times. Read More

Ida (2013)

★★★★☆

ida-6

Poland/Denmark. Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski/Screenplay by Rebecca Lenkiewicz & Pawel Pawlikowski/Cinematography by Lukasz Zal & Ryszard Lenczewski/Edited by Jaroslaw Kaminski/Music by Kristian Eidnes Andersen. Starring Agata Trzebuchowska/Agata Kulesza/Joanna Kulig/Dawid Ogrognik.

Beautifully crafted, Pawlikowski’s third feature Ida is both a meditation on the emerging adult consciousness of a novice nun and a poignant thriller in which events are treated with a numbness and matter-of-factness which reflect the reactions of the protagonists to moments of terrible loss and revelation. Read More

Angel (2007)

★★★★★

angel in the snow
UK /France / Belgium. Directed by Francois Ozon / Screenplay by Francois Ozon and Martin Crisp (dialogue) / Cinematography by Denis Lenoir /Edited by Muriel Breton / Music by Philippe Rombi / Production design by Katia Wyszkop / Art Direction by Alexandra Lassen / Set decoration by Gerard Marcireau / Costume design by Pascaline Chavanne. Starring Romola Garai, Sam Neill, Michael Fassbender, Lucy Russell, Charlotte Rampling, Jemma Powell.

Angel is an English-language masterpiece from Francois Ozon, in which he brings to dizzying fruition as in none other of his films his penchant for combining a heady theatricality with penetrating psychological insight and a serious underlying intent. Inspired by the adulation accorded to the Edwardian pulp novelist Marie Corelli, Romola Garai as Angel is rightly the narcissistic star in its firmament, in this case, the faintly vulgar Victorian pile of Tyntesfield, as resolutely full of itself as Angel. The supporting cast is peerless, though none gets a look in when Angel is about. Read More

Our Children [A Perdre la Raison] (2012)

★★★★★

Nos Enfants
Belgium / France. Directed by Joachim Lafosse / Screenplay by Joachim Lafosse, Mattieu Reynaert and Thomas Bidegain / Cinematography by Jean-Francois Hensgens / Edited by Sophie Vercruysse / Production design by Ann Falgueres. Staring Emilie Dequenne, Tahar Ramin, Niels Arestrup, Stephane Bissot, Redouane Behache.

Our Children reprises the true story of a post-natally depressed young mother who murders her children, the mother played marvellously by Emilie Dequenne, and her feckless husband and his sinister guardian played superbly by Tahir Raman and Niels Arestrup , the latter reprising a partnership begun in Un Prophete by Jacques Audriard. The parallels with Medea run deep, and one suspects that the murders are also an attempt at control over – and a revenge upon – the careless husband and the manipulative guardian. The story is a powerful metaphor for colonialism, in which the omnipotent ‘parent’ cannot allow his ‘child’ to detach and become truly independent. The road to hell is truly paved with good intentions, as Lafosse reprises his preoccupation with the normalcy of family dysfunction explored in Private Property. Read More

Foxcatcher (2014)

★★★★☆

Foxcatcher Carell

USA. Directed by Bennett Miller / Screenplay by F. Max Frye and Dan Futterman / Cinematography by Grieg Fraser / Edited by Jay Cassidy, Stuart Levy and Conor o’Neill / Music by Rob Simonsen / Production design by Jess Gonchor. With Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum, Vanessa Redgrave, Siena Miller.

Darkly lit and chilling, Foxcatcher is no routine crime movie. It’s a biting examination of how psychosis serves to justify a legacy of armaments manufacture through the obsessive justification of a glorious history, a corrosive patriotism, and an insane entitlement which eats into Olympic ideal itself. Read More

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

★★★★★

THREE kEVINS

UK /USA. Based on the novel by Lionel Shriver (2003). Directed by Lynne Ramsay / Screenplay by Lynne Ramsay and Rory Stewart Kinnear/ Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey / Edited by Joe Bini / Production design by Judy Becker / Art direction by Charles Kulsziski / Music by Johnny Greenwood. With Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ashley Gerasimovich, and Ezra Miller as teenage Kevin.

Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin is first, and perhaps foremost, a cinematic tour de force with a narrative complexity which nevertheless evolves quite naturally and comprehensibly, like watching someone assemble crazy paving. However, the themes are fascinating too and, like Lionel Shriver’s novel, the film poses more questions than answers in a saga of a monster baby and a depressed mother: is Kevin a psychopath or is he merely competing brilliantly with his mother? Read More