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SOPHIE FILLIÈRES: WHEN MARGAUX MEETS MARGAUX/LA BELLE ET LA BELLE (2018) - RENDEZ-VOUS WITH FRENCH CINEMA 2019

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SANDRINE KIBERLAIN AND AGATHE BONITZER IN WHEN MARGAUX MEETS MARGAUX

A philosophical fantasy in which a middle-aged woman encounters her earlier self in real life

I was underwhelmed by the director's previous film, If You Don't, I Will/Arrête ou je continue, even though it starred Matthieu Amaric and Emannuelle Devos. But this one charms and captures with its teasing "high concept": the forty-five-year-old Margaux (Sandrine Kiberlain) discovers she is coexisting in time and space with another Margaux (Agathe Bonitzer, daughter of the directer with fellow-director Pascal Bonitzer),who's herself twenty years younger. The older Margaux can foresee what the younger one will do, because she has been there before. But not exactly. The film succeeds and pleased partly because it does not follow out its concept too strictly, and treats its fantasy, if it is that, as one involving real people.

The story blends Thirties rom-com with sci-fi surrealism, casually interwoven in the manner of a sophisticated French sex comedy.

In between the two Margaux to complicate matters and add a gentle element of the unexpected is Marc. He was once older Margaux's lover, and now starts up - maybe - with younger Margaux - only he runs into the older Margaux and he's flirting with both of them. Marc is played by the sublimely assured and sexy Melvil Poupaud, who has been in many, many films most Americans haven't seen, but by the time he starred in one they have seen, Éric Rohmer's A Summer's Tale, in 1996, at twenty-three, had already been in twenty-two movies. Now, wouldn't you know it, he's forty-five! So just the right age for Kiberlain's Margaux, but suave and smooth and youthful enough to make love to (or, she would say, have sex with) Bonitizer's younger version without seeming like a sex offender.

But then Margaux one and two go skiing together, without Marc, who pleads sore muscles. The younger Margaux has a fall and hits her head, and everything changes. We realize the film has a humble and uplifting message. The meeting of the two Margaux has been some serious play, but the more serious play is just beginning, just as the film ends.

When Margaux Meets Margaux/La Belle et la belle, 97 mins., debuted in France 14 Mar. 2018. It also showed in BiFan - Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (Korea). Good reviews in France as indicated by a 3.5 AlloCiné press rating (user rating 4.0); Arrête ou je continue got 3.3. from the press.). Jean-Baptiste Morain, the Inrocks reviewer, said it was "perfectly balanced," and Fillières' best of her six films so far. Screened for this review as part of the UniFrance-Film Society of Lincoln Center Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, Mar. 2019.

The third of Fillières' films that I've seen was her 2005 Gentille, at my first Rendez-Vous (Mar. 2006), which I called "amiably ditsy."

TRAILER

Friday, March 1, 6:15pm (Q&A with Sophie Fillières and Agathe Bonitzer)
Wednesday, March 6, 8:45pm
New York Premiere

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©Chris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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