Feeling French?

If you’re a French student, or just a film aficionado, you’ve probably heard of the Providence French Film Festival, which has been going on this week and ends this weekend. The Festival closes tomorrow with a round table discussion entitled “Vichy France in the Lens of the Camera”, and a schedule dripping with amazing French films.  It’s located at the Cable Car Cinema on South Main Street (near RISD): go down the Hill to see some quality films and to hear French people speaking incredibly quickly next to you.

If you want a little more information about some of the films that have played this week at the Festival, we’ve compiled a short list of our personal favorites with short synopses. The trailers and plots of all the films are on the Festival website, in case we didn’t include one you’ve been eyeing. (Note: If you’ve missed a film you were really looking forward to, most of the films at the festival are available on Netflix.)

Potiche (“Trophy Wife”): Based on the play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy, Potiche is the story of a complacent trophy wife named Suzanne Pujol (played by the phenomenal Catherine Deneuve) that must take over her husband (Fabrice Luchini)’s umbrella factory after a wave of strikes and protests against his Draconian management. The film has garnered much attention both in France and in the United States, and has already nabbed a few César nominations. It’s a lighthearted feminist comedy, full with witty dialogue and colorful costumes.

See it if: you like decade-themed movies (this film is set in the 1970’s), you have a dark sense of humor, you’re a Catherine Deneuve fan.

Le petit Nicolas: The famed children series by René Goscinny comes to life in this heartwarming film for children and adults alike. Nicolas (Maxime Godart) is convinced his parents (Kad Merad and Valérie Lemercier) want to abandon him in the forest because they don’t love him anymore and want a new baby. So he and his friends must convince them to keep Nicolas, and the antics begin!

See it if: you’re a child at heard, you like lighthearted comedies, you think  French children are adorable.

Les Doigts croches: Five Montréal gangsters venture to complete the pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago to retrieve the money from a bank heist that landed them all in prison. They must first prove, however, that they’ve changed their ways before receiving the cash from a former gangster who has devoted his life to God.

See it if: you like rural landscapes (the pilgrimage takes place in Spain, and some of the shots are remarkable), you like witty dialogue and good characters, you like hearing the differences between the French and the French-Canadian accents.

Liberté: Here we have another WWII-era film, but what sets this one apart from the others is that it’s based on a true story about a family of French Gypsies as they sought refuge from arrest in occupied France. It’s a beautiful, poignant story about a rarely discussed aspect of the war, with a great cast and refreshingly funny moments.

See it if: you’re into war films; you want to hear the story of Gypsies during the Holocaust; you like eastern European folk music; you like the kind of movies that make you laugh and cry all at once.

3 p’tits cochons: Infidelity, three brothers, and their comatose mother set the stage for this unlikely comedy.  As the brothers keep vigil, conversation takes a humorous turn to sex and affairs. Raunchiness ensues, as do about 500,000 plot twists that leave you equally amused and perplexed. It drags on a little bit, clocking in at a hearty 124 minutes, but it’s a funny, quintessentially French take on love, marriage, and family.

See it if: naked sex scenes don’t make you melt into the floor; you can get down with the dirty jokes; you want a French spin on Judd Apatow.

Some friendly suggestions, for your movie-watching experience:

  • Buy tickets beforehand. It’s the last few days of the festival, so all screenings are bound to be packed. Go to the Cable Car Cinema website, order your ticket in advance, and print out the receipt. It’s not fun to go all the way down the hill to have the door closed in your face, consoled only by a whispered, “pardon”.
  • Try to head down to the Cable Car Cinema twenty minutes before your screening. Get there early, grab a love seat (yes, there are couches!), and order a large latte before the movie. The screen is relatively small, so you’ll want a good view.
  • Go hungry— THERE’S A CAFÉ!

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