Paris, winter 1885. At the Pitié -Salpêtriere Hospital, Professor Charcot is studying a mysterious illness : hysteria. Augustine, 19 years old, becomes his favorite guinea pig, the star of his demonstrations of hypnosis. The object of his studies will soon become the object of his desire…[Synopsis courtesy of Cannes Semaine de la Critique]
When he was just 29 years old, Matthieu Kassovitz took the international film world by storm with La Haine (Hate), a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically in the low-income banlieue districts on Paris’s outskirts. Aimlessly whiling away their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz, Hubert, and Said — a Jew, African, and an Arab — give human faces to France’s immigrant populations, their bristling resentment at their social marginalization slowly simmering until it reaches a climactic boiling point. A work of tough beauty, La Haine is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country’s ongoing identity crisis.
France, around 1900. Coming from the vibrancy of Paris, pert Célestine is procured as a chambermaid in Normandy. In the Lanlaire’s villa she encounters the lecherous man of the house and his asexual, tyrannical and jealous wife. Célestine is determined to avoid the fate suffered by the cook Marianne who has already secretly killed one child born out of wedlock and now despairingly realises she is pregnant again. The lively maid is intrigued by what the mysterious manservant Joseph is up to: he distributes anti-Semitic leaflets and suggests that she could work for him as a prostitute in Cherbourg. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]
Paris, 1995. Laure (Valérie Lemercier) is about to meet friends for dinner to celebrate her moving in with her boyfriend. But on her way out, she discovers that the entire city is stalled by a massive transit strike. When a handsome stranger (Vincent Lindon) offers her a ride, Laure takes a highly charged, impossibly erotic detour.
Acclaimed director Claire Denis’s jagged, daringly fragmented and darkest film is a genuinely contemporary film noir inspired by recent French sex ring scandals involving men of wealth and power. Vincent Lindon (Denis’s Friday Night) stars as Marco, a sea captain gone AWOL to avenge his brother-in-law’s suicide and to rescue his estranged sister and his teenaged niece (Lola Créton, Goodbye First Love); Chiara Mastroianni (A Christmas Tale) is Lindon’s married lover, who has sold her soul in exchange for the security of her young son; and the remarkable Michel Subor is her husband – a sleazy financier who is the very embodiment of an evil beyond comprehension.