Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Film Club does a Sequel

Sunday evening saw a full gathering of the film club with Frankenkeith rejoining us after a brief hiatus whilst he did all sorts of gallivanting around the world.

Some while back I enthused greatly in these very pages about Jean de Florette. It was time to see the sequel, Claude Berri's 1986 offering Manon des Sources.

Much like Jean it's a film in which little of wider consequence actually happens, but all of life passes before your eyes and a universe's worth of questions about the human condition are posed.
The action takes place in the same Provencal landscape as Jean de Florette, breathtaking in its beauty and very well presented by cinematographer Bruno Nuytten. Even if your subtitler was broken, simply watching the scenery would provide a pleasant couple of hours' entertainment.

The cast do a great job of understating their performances, allowing the subtleties of the narrative to speak for themselves but it does require a bit of suspended disbelief that the very easy-on-the-eye Emmanuelle Beart with her elegantly plucked eyebrows and well manicured hands is a mountain hovel dwelling goatherd.

Allow yourself that suspension of disbelief, however, and the film will gently take you on an emotional ride; telling of unrequited love, familial revenge, pain and redemption. It's simply both beautiful and affecting.

The cast is headed up by Yves Montand who gives a tremendous performance as the villainous, conspiring Cesar Soubeyran. His portrayal is sufficiently masterful that you find yourself in sympathy with him as his denouement comes. And you realise that even an almost comical old schemer has a heart that can be broken.

Do get yourself a copy of this one; I'd recommend seeing Jean de Florette first as it is a definite continuation of the story, but Manon does stand up on its own merits as well.

The general feeling amongst the film club regulars was that it's an even better film than Jean; I'm not so sure. It certainly has a stronger storyline, but I'd prefer to think of them as one magnum opus. In a couple of years time I reckon we'll have to do a back-to-back viewing, just to see.

In the meantime: a still from, perhaps, a favourite scene. Can't think why I liked this particular scene so much.

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