Loving Without Reason

The movie tells the story of a doctor who raises his friend’s brother in Belgium and the drama that develops when the boy grows up and raises his own family. It is co-written by Thomas Bidegain and Lafosse and is inspired by a riveting true story of a Belgian mother who killed her five children before attempting suicide. [Synopsis courtesy of Filmofilia]

You Will Be My Son

You’ll be my son is a 2010 French drama film directed by Gilles Legrand, starring Niels Arestrup and Lorànt Deutsch. It was written by Legrand, Sandrine Cayron, and Delphine de Vigan and released in France on the 24 August 2011. Arestrup plays Paul de Marseul, a passionate and demanding winemaker unsatisfied with the prospect of his son, Martin (Lorànt Deutsch) taking over his vineyard. He dreams of a more talented one, and finds him in the shape of Phillipe (Nicolas Bridet), the son of his steward, François (Patrick Chesnais). de Marseul lavishes attention and praise on Phillipe, all the time degrading Martin’s achievements, eventually inviting Phillipe rather than his own son to attend his investiture in the Legion d’honneur. Le Figaro gave the film three out of four stars and called it “a great vintage”.

The Big Picture

Paul Exben is a success story. He has a great job, a glamorous wife and two wonderful sons, except that this is not the life he has been dreaming of. A moment of madness is going to change his life, forcing him to assume a new identity that will enable him to live his life fully. [Synopsis courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival]

A Prophet

“The Prophet” is the story of Malik, a young Arab imprisoned because he wouldn’t snitch. At age 18, he arrives in a French prison completely lost. At first, he maintains obedience to the prison’s reigning Corsican mafia, and slowly rises in the ranks, playing a dangerous game of double-crossing the Corsicans, and ultimately destroys his enemies. Following his release six years later, he successfully builds his own empire and is the leader of the Arab mafia and a hero to his community.

Sarah’s Key

Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas), an American journalist married to a Frenchman, is commissioned to write an article about the notorious Vel d’Hiv round up, which took place in Paris, in 1942. She stumbles upon a family secret which will link her forever to the destiny of a young Jewish girl, Sarah. Julia learns that the apartment she and her husband Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand’s family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers – especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive – the more she uncovers about Bertrand’s family, about France and, finally, herself. [Synopsis courtesy of the film’s site]

The Beat That My Heart Skipped

Like his father, Tom is a real estate agent who makes his money from dirty, and sometimes brutal, deals. But a chance encounter prompts him to take up the piano and become a concert pianist. He auditions with the help of a beautiful, young virtuoso pianist who cannot speak French – music is their only exchange. But pressures from the ugly world of his day job soon become more than he can handle…

By the Sea

Set in France during the mid-1970s, Vanessa, a former dancer, and her husband Roland, an American writer, travel the country together. They seem to be growing apart, but when they linger in one quiet, seaside town they begin to draw close to some of its more vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner.

The French Minister

Arthur (Raphaël Personnaz), a graduate of all the right schools, is the new speechwriter for the Minister of Foreign Affairs (a hilarious Thierry Lhermitte). While he tries to navigate internal politics, the various strong personalities around him (such as a ruthless policy advisor played by Julie Gayet), and the stress of finding the Minister’s “voice,” Arthur must also write a speech for the Minister that will hopefully put them both in the history books. Based on co-screenwriter Antonin Baudry’s own graphic novels about his experience working in the Foreign Ministry under former Foreign (and Prime) Minister Dominique de Villepin, The French Minister takes us for a breathless ride through the halls of French government. [Synopis courtesy of Film Society Lincoln Center]

Diplomacy

In the summer of 1944, Hitler gives orders that the French capital should not fall into enemy hands, or if it does, then ‘only as a field of rubble’. The person assigned to carry out this barbaric act is Wehrmacht commander of Greater Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz, who already has mines planted on the Eiffel Tower, in the Louvre and Notre Dame and on the bridges over the Seine. Nothing should be left as a reminder of the city’s former glory. However, at dawn on 25 August, Swedish Consul General Raoul Nordling steals into German headquarters through a secret underground tunnel and tries to persuade Choltitz to abandon his plan …
Based on the eponymous play by Cyril Gély, Volker Schlöndorff has created a psychologically elaborate battle of words between two highly contrasting characters. While Choltitz entrenches himself behind his duty to obey unquestioningly all military orders, Nordling tries everything he can to appeal to reason and humanity and prevent the senseless destruction of Paris. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]