I must say, day two was bit disappointing. I’ve chosen two films which I was quite curious about, both dramas been inspired by the real life, both were supposed to bring the emotions on the edge, each in a different way, but neither of those two films did. So, I would love to tell you a bit about them and perhaps you may have a different opinion.
Director: Lola Doillon
Cast: Léonie Souchaud, Fantine Harduin, Cécile De France, Juliane Lepoureau
Fanny’s Journey is a french war film that is inspired by the amazing story of Fanny Ben-Ami and her sisters but also recognizes work of french Children Aid Society. During the World War II, many parents chose to save their children by entrusting them to this society which then placed them into numerous caring homes all over France. Many of these children have never seen their parents again. Fanny and her two sisters had the same fate, their story is one step more daring and unbelievable.
The film introduces you to Fanny and her sisters, but also couple other characters, children, and adults. As the war progressed the children no longer could stay in France and had to be moved to Italy, the same continues here. After Mussolini was arrested it meant that Germans would take over, unlike them, Italians did not hunt Jewish people, this would soon change. The children had to leave for Switzerland. But their journey would be very difficult even with adults, but this group of very young children was left on their own. And they had to reach Switzerland. This film reminds you of the most horrible prices, and it’s stripping the child of hers/his innocence in face of horror and bloodshed, but most importantly politics they should never even find out about.
What this film also shows beautifully is the challenge of explaining something so ridiculous and inhuman to a child no older than six years old. In these moments, you are thoroughly reminded of how profoundly disgusting but also ridiculous this whole war has been. So, the children have to reach Switzerland border on their own, not knowing who to trust or even where the border is. The story is very touching by its own definition, of its own accord of knowing, that this truly happened, but also by relating to these days refugees, whichever war-torn place or regime they flee, be it Syria, Iraq or North Korea, children and their souls are the biggest victims.
Other than this clenching feeling, though, the film lacks deeper emotions which I think are very crucial, it is perhaps the pacing of the film, but also the introduction to so many characters. I would be very thrilled by knowing more about them, but at the end of the film, you do not know which of them were real, but also what were their fates apart from Fannys. And I know this is a film of Fanny Benn Ami, but the story took you to these children, established a touching storyline, and I for one would very much love to know. It is beautifully directed and it absolutely worths your time, but it had much bigger potential.
STALIN’S COUCH / LE DIVAN DE STALINE
Director: Fanny Ardant
Cast: Gérard Depardieu, Emmanuelle Seigner, Paul Hamy
Well. As far as I could find out, this story is very, very (almost extremely) loosely based on real events. What this is supposed to be, is a psychological tryout to peak into the head of one of the most bestial but also most paranoid of world leaders, and Soviet leaders altogether, Joseph Stalin. He famously did not trust anyone, resulting in killing almost all of his generals before WWII.
Regardless, this story takes you to see Stalin in the 1950’s, quite near to his death but still breathing. The story itself takes place on some remote chateau, place of relaxation for Stalin, played by Gérard Depardieu, to regain his strength but also prepare and decide on his monument on the Red Square, this opens lead to the story. Stalin’s somewhat lover Lidia (played by Emmanuelle Seigner) and possible artist Danilov (played by Paul Hamy) create a triangle of mistrust, secrets and quite frankly, boredom.
For purpose of the story, Lidia was invented and is supposed to be some 27 years acquaintance with Stalin. Now Stalin did have Lidia in his life, it was Lidia Pereprygina (13 years old at the time) who had 2-year affair with then very young Stalin (in the 1920’s), presumably, she had two sons with him. This film Lidia is completely made up.
In the story, they try for a psychological evaluation of Stalin through his talks about dreams on a couch, that resembles divan of famous psychologist Sigmund Freud. There are very few records of any connection but the one when Stalin proclaimed Freud a charlatan and his books could not be published in Russia. Quote film reminds you of a number of times. Freud had a couch in his office, and this film world version shows Stalin having the couch or it’s replica, thus issuing the analysis plot.
Stalin tells of his dreams, while the film unravels secrets the possible artist Danilov might be keeping and the tiredness of Lidia. At the same time, while trying to show Stalin weak, it also keeps showing his ways with politics, sending off soldiers to frozen Siberia, and his wild temper. Dépardieu is a good actor and I have always liked him, but this role does not suit him. But the biggest problem is the film itself. It tries to analyze Stalin, but it fails. The idea could perhaps be interesting, but the film itself has nothing to offer but 92 minutes of gloomy atmosphere, which was brilliant, but has nothing to fill the scenery shots with but perhaps give a glimpse of the way Russia and the Soviet Union operated (showing it very mildly with comparison to other films) to those who never crossed (for some damn reason) this part of history.
I will be back tomorrow with the last bunch of film I have seen at this festival, this time, though, it will be three brilliant and diverse pieces 🙂
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