Fantastic Foreign Films: French
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The relationship between a father and daughter is complicated by the arrival of a handsome young man.
Jean, a farm lad, wants to escape his silent father; he runs to Paris to his older brother, Georges, who's away covering the war in Kosovo. Angry, he throws a bag of half-eaten pastry into a beggar's lap. Amadou, a young Franco-African, berates him. The police arrive, arrest Amadou and deport the beggar. Georges's girlfriend Anne is upset; it colors her relationship with Georges when he returns from the war. Separate lives intersect for the one moment, around the pastry bag, and all are altered.
A strange and beautiful variation on Vertigo, French director André Téchiné's Barocco (in English, "Baroque") stars Isabelle Adjani as the girlfriend of a boxer (Gérard Depardieu) who's being paid to smear a political candidate. When the boxer is killed, his killer (Depardieu again) follows Adjani, seeking the boxer's money--but he also grows obsessed with Adjani, and she in turn decides to remake him into her dead lover. Barocco, with its gorgeously composed cinematography and circuitous plot, evokes the style of directors like Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock; it's as much an homage to other thrillers as it is a thriller itself. But very few movies wear their influences so successfully--despite the abstruseness of its plot, Barocco is full of hypnotic and dazzling images, and Depardieu and Adjani give intense, haunted performances.