The Trouble with You
Pio Marmaï and Adèle Haenel in The Trouble with You

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the annual French film festival, hosted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and UniFrance, that showcases contemporary French filmmaking, announced the complete lineup for the 24th edition. The festival will run February 28 to March 10, 2019 at the Walter Reade Theater in New York City.

The 2019 Opening Night selection is the New York premiere of The Trouble with You, the latest comic whirlwind from Rendez-Vous alum Pierre Salvadori (In the Courtyard), just nominated for nine César Awards including Best Film, Director, Screenplay, and all four acting categories. A standout of the 2018 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, this hilarious yet tender film stars Adèle Haenel as a woman coping with the recent loss of her husband, and features supporting performances by Audrey Tautou, Vincent Elbaz, and Damien Bonnard.

Highlights of the lineup include Louis-Julien Petit’s Invisibles, a spirited, character-driven social-realist drama about a daytime shelter for homeless women; Sophia Antipolis, Virgil Vernier’s richly textured and singularly political follow-up to his acclaimed debut feature Mercuriales; FIDMarseille Grand Prix winner The Time of the Pirates, the first fiction feature from director Gaël Lépingle; doctor-cum-director Thomas Lilti’s The Freshmen, an affectionate tale of two medical-school freshmen drawn from Lilti’s own experiences; Amanda, Mikhaël Hers’s poignant story of trauma and resilience; and Emmanuel Mouret’s historical costume drama The Art of Seduction, inspired by Denis Diderot’s Jacques the Fatalist. Actors Laurent Lafitte and Gilles Lellouche are each involved with two films in the festival; Lafitte (Elle) appears in Patricia Mazuy’s long-awaited fifth feature Paul Sanchez Is Back! and Sébastien Marnier’s sophomore thriller School’s Out, while Lellouche stars in Jeanne Herry’s adoption drama In Safe Hands and directs Guillaume Canet and Mathieu Amalric in the Full Monty–esque Sink or Swim.

This year’s lineup will showcase a number of films directed by women, including Mia Hansen-Løve’s enchanting character study Maya, Sophie Fillières’s charming and lightly fantastical When Margaux Meets Margaux, Rendez-Vous alum Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s The Summer House, and two stories of female soldiers: Hélène Fillières’s Raising Colors and Eva Husson’s Girls of the Sun. The festival will also feature new work from Rendez-Vous favorites, including Bruno Dumont’s absurdist L’il Quinquin sequel Coincoin and the Extra-Humans and the ever-unpredictable Quentin Dupieux’s Keep an Eye Out!.

Additionally, Rendez-Vous with French Cinema will feature several directorial debuts, including Meteorites, Romain Laguna’s atmospheric story of a teenager’s exploratory and momentous summer of self-discovery; Whatever Happened to My Revolution, directed by and starring Judith Davis as an idealistic urban planner struggling to reconcile her radical activist values with her bourgeois relatives; and Sarah Marx’s The Truk, which evokes the Dardennes in its stinging portrayal of the bitter casualties of class disparity.

This year, Russell Banks will be UniFrance’s American ambassador for Rendez-Vous with French Cinema. A writer and poet known for his novels The Sweet Hereafter, Cloudsplitter, and Continental Drift, Banks will present a special screening of François Truffaut’s seminal French New Wave film The 400 Blows and participate in a free talk on French cinema with writer and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier. Additional Rendez-Vous free talks will be announced in the coming weeks.

FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS

Opening Night
The Trouble with You / En liberté!
Pierre Salvadori, France, 2018, 108m
French with English subtitles
New York Premiere
A heartfelt performance from Adèle Haenel anchors the latest comic whirlwind from Pierre Salvadori, whose In the Courtyard played at Rendez-Vous in 2015. Haenel’s Yvonne is coping with the recent loss of her husband (Vincent Elbaz), a fellow police investigator and something of a folk hero in their small Riviera town. After she discovers that her partner’s golden reputation is totally fabricated, with one faux heist resulting in the jailing of an innocent jeweler (Pio Marmaï), Yvonne strives to salvage this man’s fate—and in the process tumbles through slapsticky fisticuffs and romantic intrigue. With supporting turns from Audrey Tautou and Damien Bonnard (Staying Vertical), this brilliantly written Cannes Directors’ Fortnight standout serves up a hilarious yet tender story of integrity and redemption. Nominated for nine César Awards including Best Film, Director, Screenplay, and all four acting categories.

Preceded by:
Les Indes galantes
Clément Cogitore, France, 2018, 5m
At the Paris Opera, members of three Krump street-dancing collectives collaborate to perform an excerpt from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s ballet in this electrifying short documentary from director Clément Cogitore and The Trouble with You renowned producer Philippe Martin.

The 400 Blows / Les Quatre cents coups
François Truffaut, France, 1959, 99m
French with English subtitles
When film critic François Truffaut was challenged to put into practice what he’d been preaching, he chose to tell the story of a 13-year-old wild child in Paris whose adventures were based on his own adolescence. Rejected or rebuffed by school, family, and community, young Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) sets out on his own, propelled toward one of the most famous of all movie endings: the legendary snapshot of a childhood on the brink. The 400 Blows marked the birth of Jean-Pierre Léaud as crown prince of the French New Wave, and of Truffaut as its runaway auteur.

Amanda
Mikhaël Hers, France, 2018, 107m
French with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Vincent Lacoste leads Mikhaël Hers’s poignant new feature about trauma and its aftershocks. At first, David (Lacoste) is just beginning to figure out life in his early twenties, helping his sister (Ophélia Kolb) raise her 7-year-old daughter, Amanda (Isaure Multrier), and gently initiating a romance with a pianist (Stacy Martin, Nymphomaniac). This era of placidity is brutally ruptured, and a grief-stricken David must assume new responsibility for Amanda as a potential guardian. With an understated directorial touch, Hers creates a touching story of resilience deepened by delicately nuanced performances. Nominated for César Awards for Best Actor and Original Score. 

The Art of Seduction / Mademoiselle de Joncquières
Emmanuel Mouret, France, 2018, 110m
French with English subtitles
In Emmanuel Mouret’s witty twist on Denis Diderot’s 18th-century novel Jacques the Fatalist, also the inspiration for Bresson’s Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, passion dissipates into jealousy and hardens into vengeance. The widowed Madame de La Pommeraye (Cécile de France) prides herself on maintaining a rational distance from matters of the heart, but against her better judgment, she gives in to a persistent and charming Marquis (Edouard Baer). When the affair loses its glow and the Marquis slips back into his libertine lifestyle, the Madame concocts an elaborate revenge plot, and finds two susceptible pawns in a mother and daughter duo (Alice Isaaz and Natalia Dontcheva) whose own social standing was sabotaged by a dishonest husband. Of a deliciously calculating piece with Dangerous LiaisonsThe Art of Seduction weds a critique of privilege to an enthralling tale of deception. Nominated for six César Awards including Best Actress, Actor, Screenplay, Cinematography, and Costumes. 

Coincoin and the Extra-Humans
Bruno Dumont, France, 2018, 200m
French with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Bruno Dumont’s sequel to 2014’s Li’l Quinquin, which signified his bold break from social realism into madcap experimentalism, revisits its ragtag characters in a new absurdist epic that reckons with xenophobia in northern France. As gobs of ectoplasmic gunk fall from the sky without warning, the now-teenaged Coincoin must again evade the spluttering police captain Van der Weyden and his deputy Carpentier as they zoom through sparse pastoral vistas, on the hunt for clues. Although they’re utterly ill-equipped to connect these splats to the sudden materialization of identical twins around town, their moments of prophetic lucidity are as surprising as they are revealing. Across this expansive canvas, Coincoin and the Extra-Humans channels Jacques Tati, Antonin Artaud, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers into a deadpan fever dream, wholly singular and undeniably Dumont.

The Freshmen / Première année
Thomas Lilti, France, 2018, 92m
French with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Thomas Lilti, whose hospital drama Hippocrates played Rendez-Vous in 2015, draws upon his experience as a doctor once again for this affectionate tale of two medical-school freshmen. Antoine (Vincent Lacoste) is beginning his third attempt at the first year, which culminates in a cutthroat entrance exam before one can even opt into the medical concentration. When classes commence, he meets Benjamin (William Lebghil), an endearingly aloof new student whose upbringing in a medical family helps him intuitively grasp course concepts. As the two become fast friends and study partners, they embark on a year that pits academic automatism against the emotional highs and lows of discovering one’s calling in life. Nominated for a Best New Actor César Award. 

Girls of the Sun / Les Filles du soleil
Eva Husson, France/Belgium/Georgia/Switzerland, 2018, 111m
English, French, Kurdish, and Arabic with English subtitles
An unshakable Golshifteh Farahani, as Bahar, the commander of an all-female unit of resistance fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan, holds the center of Girls of the Sun. Bahar’s squadron is comprised entirely of former captives who survived a massacre in Corduene, and their rage to fight stems from the grief of witnessing the slaughter of their loved ones. A French war journalist (Emmanuelle Bercot) assigned to cover ISIS’s invasion of Mount Sinjar is struck by Bahar’s adamant rejections of her fellow male soldiers’ more cautious strategies; instead, she suggests working together to pull off a riskier, but total, infiltration of the enemy headquarters. Drawing from true events, Eva Husson takes an uncompromising, female-driven look at the collective and individual strength it takes to resist oppression.

In Safe Hands / Pupille
Jeanne Herry, France/Belgium, 2018, 109m
French with English subtitles
Jeanne Herry crafts a story stemming from a delicate two-and-a-half-month state of limbo for a newborn child, Théo, who becomes a ward of the state after his mother gives him up for adoption at birth. In Safe Hands choreographs parallel strands of action: the search for potential parents undertaken by the social workers managing Théo’s case (Sandrine Kiberlain and Clotilde Mollet), the care and vigilance required for Théo’s foster father (Gilles Lellouche) to properly nurture him in the interim, and the nine-year journey of adoption applications and fractured marriage embarked upon by a possible mother (Élodie Bouchez). Within this institutional balancing act, Henry’s characters swing between intense determination, uncertainty, and, ultimately, joy: all par for the course while seeking the proper equilibrium for a person’s life to begin. Nominated for seven César Awards including Best Film, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay.

Invisibles / Les Invisibles
Louis-Julien Petit, France, 2018, 102m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
With pathos and institutional nuance, Louis-Julien Petit’s third social-realist drama transforms its source nonfiction text by Claire Lajeunie into a spirited ensemble piece about a daytime shelter for homeless women. Following the municipal government’s decision to shut down the institution, largely due to the optics of meager reintegration statistics, the shelter’s conscientious all-female staff launches into action to help secure employment for as many women as possible. However, their increasingly assertive coaching sessions compel the social workers to confront the ways in which they, too, might be focusing more on printed résumés than people. In this buoyant character-driven study indebted to Stephen Frears and Ken Loach, Petit lays bare the broken and oppressive systems plaguing Paris’s approach to homelessness, while also emphasizing the social element of social work.

Keep an Eye Out! / Au poste!
Quentin Dupieux, France, 2018, 73m
French with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Tires and TVs have come to life—and thirsted for blood—in two of Quentin Dupieux’s earlier features, Rubber and Reality (Rendez-Vous 2015) respectively. With Keep an Eye Out!, the ever-unpredictable filmmaker and Brainfeeder-signed electronic musician returns with a seemingly intimately scaled bottle narrative: a minutiae-obsessed police inspector (a perfectly cast Benoît Poelvoorde, Man Bites Dog) bumbles and doubles back through the most agonizing interrogation of all time, much to the chagrin of the interviewee (Grégoire Ludig), who stumbled upon a dead body in front of his apartment building. When Poelvoorde’s inspector momentarily steps outside and leaves an anxious one-eyed officer (Marc Fraize) in charge, the story morphs into something more off-kilter. As one might expect from Dupieux, this is but one of several surprises in a film that is constantly in mesmerizing and darkly comedic flux.

Maya
Mia Hansen-Løve, France/Germany, 2018, 107m
English and French with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Across a remarkably contemplative range of work—including Goodbye First LoveEden, and Things to Come—Mia Hansen-Løve has conjured visceral points of entry into philosophical themes; in Maya, she thoughtfully probes the private intricacies of rehabilitation. Four months after he was taken hostage in Syria, war journalist Gabriel (Roman Kolinka, Things to Come) returns home to France. Still coping internally with his trauma, Gabriel unmoors himself from now-alienating familiar faces and decamps to India, where he spent his childhood. While staying at his family’s old house in Goa, he strikes up a rapport with his godfather’s daughter, Maya (Aarshi Banerjee), who, feeling out of place, recently dropped out of school in London. As the two bond over their mutual restlessness, Hansen-Løve gently questions whether Gabriel’s self-imposed, ever-moving isolation truly constitutes healing. With Alex Descas and Johanna ter Steege.

Meteorites / Les Méteorites
Romain Laguna, France, 2018, 85m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
After 16-year-old Nina (Zéa Duprez) sees a meteorite fall from the sky, she can’t find any physical evidence to prove what she witnessed. Instead, the mysterious event catalyzes an exploratory and quietly momentous summer, which sets the scene for Romain Laguna’s atmospheric first feature. Adrift after dropping out of school, Nina pursues love and lust with Morad (Billal Agab), her best friend’s older brother, who hails from an Algerian family in their otherwise culturally homogeneous village in the south of France. As their time passes, Nina senses a slight rift between the personal and shared stakes of their relationship, but the journey emerges as one of crucial self-discovery. Laguna crafts an evocative and tactile portrait of the hunger for experience that shapes our teenage years, and Duprez’s remarkably assured performance introduces a poised new talent.

Paul Sanchez Is Back! / Paul Sanchez est revenu!
Patricia Mazuy, France, 2018, 110m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
The police are reticent to believe that the notorious murderer Paul Sanchez is, indeed, back 10 years after he vanished without a trace. Yet adventure-hungry junior-officer Marion (César-winner Zita Hanrot, Fatima) can’t help obsessing over bread crumbs of hearsay, especially once a local reporter (Idir Chender, Occidental) begins receiving mysterious e-mails supposedly sent by Sanchez himself. Also starring Elle’s Laurent Lafitte, this long-awaited fifth feature from Patricia Mazuy (The King’s Daughters) spins a gripping caper with ample commentary on sensationalistic media narratives—but far from prosaic, it’s also an adrenaline rush of the imagination propelled by a percussive original score from John Cale.

Raising Colors / Volontaire
Hélène Fillières, France, 2018, 100m
French with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Much to the chagrin of her pacifist family, Sorbonne-educated Laure Baer (Diane Rouxel) ends up taking the first job offer she receives: an administrative position in the French Navy. As training begins, Laure assumes her post supporting the austere and withdrawn Commander Rivière (Lambert Wilson), she is surprised by how resonant she finds the codes of honor and discipline that structure military life. When her curiosity is piqued by the possibility of trying out for special ops, she commits herself to the challenge despite sexist dismissals of her capabilities, and strives to prove herself to the Chief Training Officer (Alex Descas). The second feature-film outing by actress Hélène Fillières (Tied) as a director captures a palpable electricity within the formality of ceremony, inextricable from a search for self.

School’s Out / L’Heure de la sortie
Sébastien Marnier, France, 2018, 103m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
In his Venice-selected sophomore thriller, Sébastien Marnier (Faultless, Rendez-Vous 2017) sets his sights on a chilly class of gifted and talented students in the French countryside. After their teacher commits suicide during an exam, Pierre Hoffman (Laurent Lafitte, Elle) is called in as a long-term substitute. Expecting a class collectively reeling from this traumatic shock, Pierre is surprised to encounter a group of seemingly affectless mid-teens, mostly concerned with accelerating at an appropriate pace through their advanced-level courses. His sense that something is askew only grows more acute when he notices a strange turn-the-other-cheek approach to physical violence—both from the students and his fellow faculty members. As Pierre spirals further into a wormhole that references both J.G. Ballard and Patti Smith, Marnier maintains a sense of creeping unease that expands into a chilling capitalist critique.

 Sink or Swim / Le grand bain
Gilles Lellouche, Belgium/France, 2018, 122m
French and Sinhalese with English subtitles
With buoyant energy, Gilles Lellouche choreographs and directs a stellar ensemble in pursuit of grace and discarded dreams—that is, a group of varyingly coordinated middle-aged men who find an outlet in synchronized swimming. Bertrand (Mathieu Amalric, soulful yet understated) is the newbie to the group, having signed up on a whim to take his mind off of his unemployment and depression. As he gets to know his fellow swimmers, played by Guillaume Canet, Benoît Poelvoorde, Jean-Hugues Anglade, and Philippe Katerine, he uncovers shared frustrations and disappointments, but also hope in a hobby that’s less about skill than teamwork. After a year of awkward and charmingly comedic practice sessions, Bertrand’s proposal that his motley crew train for the world championships fuels their conviction to prove that time has not passed them by. Nominated for 10 César Awards including Best Film, Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Screenplay, and Cinematography. 

Film Comment Presents:
Sophia Antipolis
Virgil Vernier, France, 2018, 98m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Virgil Vernier’s follow-up to his acclaimed debut feature, Mercuriales (ND/NF 2015), takes stock of the state of the French socioeconomic order as embodied by the eponymous, dystopian business park and an eclectic ensemble of cult members, militiamen, and more. Once again working in richly textured Super 16mm, Vernier moves episodically from one character to another, tracking their movements, thoughts, and desires in the aftermath of the discovery of a young girl’s body, apparently burned alive, in one of the park’s factories. A group portrait of disappointment, disillusionment, and disaffection in a veritable hothouse of late capitalism, Sophia Antipolisis a work as singularly political as it is sophisticatedly drawn.

The Summer House / Les Estivants
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, France/Italy, 2018, 122m
French with English subtitles
U.S Premiere
The inherent slippage between reality and narrative becomes a power unto itself in Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s new feature. During an annual summer vacation to the family villa on the French Riviera, filmmaker Anna (Bruni Tedeschi) conceals a sudden split from her husband from her relatives and their spouses, all of whom are more volatile than usual while coping with the death of her brother. Palpably in her own head while interacting with her sister (Valeria Golino), her daughter (real-life daughter Oumy Bruni Garrel), and her screenwriting partner (real-life co-writer Noémie Lvovsky), Anna also prepares a film based on this recent loss, which is received coldly by her family. Meanwhile, the domestic staff (including Yolande Moreau and François Négret) negotiates for better pay and work conditions with a family they find increasingly self-absorbed. Like Bruni Tedeschi’s A Castle in Italy (2013), The Summer House invites autobiographical readings while also complicating the idea of art as personal exorcism.

The Time of the Pirates / Seuls les pirates
Gaël Lépingle, France, 2018, 89m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Winner of the Grand Prix in the French competition at FIDMarseille, The Time of the Pirates boasts a structure that is at first vignette-based and patchwork before it quickly settles on a focal thread: the story of Géro, the spunky owner of a community theater troupe in the Loire Valley. As the local government threatens to demolish his house and theater to make way for public housing, the anarchy-loving actor, undeterred after losing his voice from his battle with cancer, plots an idiosyncratic defense against the forces that threaten to drain the life from both of his homes. Gaël Lépingle (Julien) rounds out this earnest and vibrant mosaic of quotidian resistance with Géro’s aspiring-playwright nephew Léo and a cohort of like-minded friends and refugees.

The Truk
Sarah Marx, France/Ukraine, 2018, 83m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
After being released early from prison, Ulysse (Sandor Funtek, Blue Is the Warmest Color) must take over as the primary caregiver for his mother (devastatingly fleshed out by Sandrine Bonnaire), who is undergoing treatment for severe depression. Confronted by overwhelming debts and health-care costs, Ulysse reconnects with an old friend who plans to covertly sell ketamine from a food truck at an EDM festival. As Sarah Marx widens the range of parties involved in this drug ring, she emphasizes the broader contexts that give rise to their increasingly cutthroat desperation, throwing Ulysse’s precarious solution into jeopardy. The film’s handheld camerawork grounds each scene in a fragile immediacy evoking the Dardennes in this stinging debut feature about the bitter casualties of class disparity.

When Margaux Meets Margaux / La Belle et la belle
Sophie Fillières, France, 2018, 97m
French with English subtitles
New York Premiere
This irresistible fantastical tale from Sophie Fillières (If You Don’t, I Will, Rendez-Vous 2014) centers on a chance meeting between an impulsive but aimless twentysomething named Margaux (Fillières’s daughter Agathe Bonitzer, Right Here Right Now) and a disenchanted fortysomething who’s not only coincidentally named Margaux (Sandrine Kiberlain, Tip Top)… but also is Margaux. Accurately pulling from her past self’s proclivities, social circles, and future life events, the wiser Margaux revisits her memories and regrets to give herself retroactive advice and, possibly, a way to start over, including a stirring romance with a handsome suitor (Melvil Poupaud). From this surreal premise, Fillières crafts a lovingly philosophical ode to our personal paths and stumbles through love and life.

Whatever Happened to My Revolution / Tout ce qu’il me reste de la révolution
Judith Davis, France, 2018, 88m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Angèle’s parents first fell in love on the front lines of Maoist protests; now they are separated, and Angèle, an idealistic urban planner, struggles with the compromises her family has made in exchange for comfortable lives. Actress Judith Davis’s playful and passionate feature directorial debut follows Angèle, played by Davis herself, into a contemporary Paris that missed the revolutionary memo, long after the movements sparked by May ’68 have faded into history. Fueled by a bleeding activist heart that sometimes backs her into a corner, Angèle strives to reconcile her radical values with relatives who are trending more and more bourgeois. And faced with the opportunity to reconnect with her estranged mother (Mireille Perrier, J’entends plus la guitare), who has retreated from the dreams that Angèle is now pursuing, she locates the strength of her convictions in her dedication to meaningful interpersonal connection.
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