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Friday, July 5, 2013

Film Review: Le Divorce and Before Sunset

Bonjour! It is time for Paris in July! To kick things off, I've been listening to my French music non-stop and I am loving it.  Of course, I might love it more, if I had an inkling as to what they were crooning about.  Nonetheless, I am enjoying the musical delights of Tiersen.  And, to get even more excited about Paris in July, I've watched two lovely films: Le Divorce and Before Sunset. One is a comedy and one is a love story, both are set in Paris, and both are unforgettable.
In Le Divorce, we have a film about family, love, a painting, and Paris.  Isabel Walker has traveled to Paris to check in on her older sister, Roxy (who is married and pregnant with her second child).  Eager to embrace French culture, Isabel is excited about the prospects that Paris is sure to bring.  However, once there, she is confronted with a depressed and suicidal sister who has just been dumped by her cheating husband - not exactly a warm welcome.  And, things get even more complicated when her brother-in-law's mistress' husband tries to insinuate himself into her and Roxy's lives by stalking them.  Plus, Isabel has found a new job, a sort-of boyfriend, and a married man to keep her occupied.  Oh, and the painting of St. Ursula that hangs in Roxy's home may or may not be a real La Tour - which brings the whole Walker clan out to Paris (plus, an attempted suicide).   All the while, Roxy is dealing with her husband's meddlesome family about a divorce that she is adamantly against.  Sounds pretty crazy and kind of ridiculous, right?  Well it is, and its not.  Thanks in large part to the stellar cast of actors in the film, this movie is a surprisingly sweet treat to watch.  Oh, and of course, it helps to have Paris be the backdrop amidst all the drama.  The Eiffel Tower, those ubiquitous scarves,  a red Hermes handbag, delectable dishes, chic apartments, and country estates - what more could I want?

In Before Sunset, we finally have the long awaited reunion between Jesse and Celine.  Fans of Before Sunrise know that the couple met on a train and wound up spending the night wandering the streets of Vienna.  They planned to meet up six months later, but as the movie ended we were left wondering if a reunion ever took place.  And, now thanks to Before Sunset we have our answer.  Turns out that Jesse made it to Vienna in December, but Celine did not (her grandmother passed away and she was at her funeral).  Suffice it to say, Jesse is relieved to find out that Celine didn't purposely ditch him, and Celine is delighted to find out that he showed up as promised.  Of course, that was nine years ago and a lot has happened since then.  As the couple gets reacquainted with one another, and the day starts to fade into night, Paris surrounds them.  They wander around the city, visit a cafe, take a boat tour of the Seine River and wind up listening to Nina Simone at Celine's bohemian-styled apartment.  French music plays softly in the background at times, and the lush beauty of the gardens and cityscape provide a romantic tinged feel to the whole film. I felt like I was visiting Paris while I watched Jesse and Celine visiting with one another.  Now, I don't want to give away the plot, so I'm not going to say what transpires between Celine and Jesse, but just know that you will have a smile on your face as the credits roll. 

So, yes, I would most definitely recommend Le Divorce and Before Sunset to everyone.   I know that they aren't really French films, but for me they showcase the beauty of Paris quite nicely - the cobblestone streets, Notre Dame, chic Parisians, lovely parks, the Seine River, cool cafes, and the feeling of possibility that the city seems to possess.  I found myself wishing I were wandering around the City of Light, wearing an expertly knotted scarf, and taking in the beautiful scenery surrounding me.  Plus, the films felt like the perfect way to kick off Paris in July

And now, I'm off to read something for Paris in July - I'm torn between The Cleaner of Chartres, Gourmet Rhapsody, and The Whole Fromage.  Hmm.  What do you think?

6 comments:

Lisa said...

I thought I'd do Paris in July again (I even recall mentally setting aside a book for July). But now I'm just determined to get through some review commitments and Under The Dome and then I want the month to myself. On the other hand, these two movies sound wonderful and I could definitely squeeze in some movie time!

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Lisa, I know what you mean. I thought I would have plenty of time to devote to Paris in July, but its not turning out that way - hence the films. Oh well. How's Under the Dome going?

Tamara said...

Thanks for the film reviews - always lovely to see the tower and red scrafs etc.... romance is good. I'm all for experiencing Paris in July through all our senses - so I'm glad you feel comfortable with the movie options. What music are you listening to? under to dome just started playing down under and I'm refusing to let myself get sucked in - too much to do :)

Christine Harding said...

The films sound good - I was trying to think of French films to watch, and some music. My 'trip' to Paris is an old guide book to the city http://goo.gl/BjpB9

Paulita said...

I say as long as they are set in France, they count! I don't think I've seen Le Divorce, so I'll need to try that one. I've seen Before Sunrise, so now I'll need to try After Sunset. I have a weekly French meme every Monday throughout the year if you ever want to play along. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

Christy (A Good Stopping Point) said...

Before Sunset is such a wonderful film and you really do get a tour of Paris as the characters walk around the city in real time.