Masquerade, Harka, Close… Films to see or avoid this week

A squeaky game of fools, the last memories of the Tunisian revolution, a teenage drama… What should we see this week? The selection of Figaro.

Masquerade – Have

Dramatic comedy by Nicolas Bedos, 2h14

Glory on the decline, Martha Duval spends anything but peaceful days in her Moorish villa on the Côte d’Azur. It’s a beautiful place to wait for the end of the world. To make this stay sweeter, the diva has hired the services of a gigolo, a former dancer who now considers himself a writer. No one is fooled, neither he nor she – and, of course, none of their friends. We pretend.

Nicolas Bedos broods, quotes Somerset Maugham, films beings on the edge of the abyss. His camera cringes. He has the virtuosity, the tinsel of a Sorrentino. This dreamscape hides nightmarish manoeuvres. A hotel manager gets kicked out by her boyfriend. Pierre Niney runs in all directions, dons a false mustache, takes refuge in the Negresco, ends up writing a novel in which his benefactress is not spared. Masquerade is cruel and beautiful, with a game that takes your breath away. Invention does not cease for a second. The scenario pulls the carpet under the feet of the spectator, delighted with the deception.

Harka – Have

Drama by Lofty Nathan, 1h22

Twenty-something Ali makes a living selling contraband gasoline on the black market. He has rage and dreams from elsewhere. Over there, on the Mediterranean coast, the sea winks at him. She inspires him and sucks him in when, consumed by the disillusions of an unfinished revolution, he thinks of this window on a possible tomorrow. But the family destiny catches up with him and burns him.

Everything in Lofty Nathan’s film has been finely studied, worked on, to take the viewer as close as possible to this life of hope and hardship. A life whose very title, Harka, immediately announces the color. In Arabic, the word means “to burn”. In Tunisian slang, it also designates a migrant who makes the illegal crossing by boat. Ali, his main character, will not be able to do it.

Pamfir’s Oath – Have

Drama by Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk, 1h42

Pamfir’s Oath, presented in the Directors’ Fortnight at the last Cannes Film Festival, was written and shot before the war. Between western and film noir, he stages Pamfir, colossus with a drooping mustache, back home, in a rural region on the borders of Ukraine, after long months of absence. He finds his wife, his son and his village, under the yoke of Orestes, a caïd in the name of Greek tragedy. Violence, smuggling and corruption. A less than idyllic vision of Ukraine at a time when Ukrainians are fighting for their country.

Pamfir is both a sacrificial father and a scary bear. A spectacular scene, both brutal and choreographed, shows him fighting alone against Orestes’ henchmen. We are hardly surprised to learn that Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk, before studying cinema at the University of kyiv, devoured the films of Dogme 95, the movement founded in 1995 by the Danes Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg , then young and undisciplined, supporters of a raw formwork cinema.

A dress for Mrs Harris – Have

Comedy by Anthony Fabien, 1h56

And if, to renew itself, the romantic comedy did without prince charming? In this adaptation of the cult novel by American Paul Gallico, the object of desire is clothing. Left widowed by the Second World War, Ada goes through the days mechanically. The heart of this London housekeeper starts beating again when she sees a Dior dress in her employer’s wardrobe. Against all odds, Ada saves up to go to Paris and buy an outfit from the haute couture label. This elegant and old-fashioned ode to rebirth and resilience recruits, alongside the distinguished Lesley Manville, Isabelle Huppert as a surly saleswoman, Lambert Wilson as a benevolent aristocrat and Lucas Bravo as an idealistic accountant. Postcard Paris with a funny little face, a plot sewn with white thread, sparkling, of course. But the charm of its generous heroine with formidable outspokenness, who never loses her dignity, operates.

Close – Avoid

Drama by Lukas Dhont, 1h45

We are in the countryside. Rémi and Léo are 12 years old and are best friends. They take advantage of the summer holidays to play with wooden swords and race bicycles. Rémi plays classical music, and Leo is his biggest fan. Entering sixth grade marks the end of this simple happiness and this cutesy complicity.

Lukas Dhont, the Flemish Xavier Dolan practices the art of understatement in a demonstrative way. He proceeds in small steps. Short sequences, all of the same duration, each with a function, such as checkboxes. Between two ice hockey training sessions, a brutal sport that crystallizes Leo’s virile drift (in addition to video games!), a feeling of guilt gnaws at the boy, confronted with the grief of Rémi’s mother. Lukas Dhont is an admirer of Céline Sciamma. He could be a cousin of Xavier Dolan, in more pain and less hysterical. Or even a little brother of the Dardennes. A sentimental little brother, who would love violinades, sunsets and races in the flower fields.

Amsterdam – Things to Avoid

Police Officer by David O. Russel, 2h14

An exciting cast (Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington), an uneven but sometimes inspired director (David O. Russell, author of The Kings of the Desert and American Hustle), a plot against America, and Robert De Niro in a small role. All that for a police comedy that rows horribly, in which the actors rompe painfully. A beautiful mess.

You won’t get my hate – Avoid

Drama by Kilian Riedhof, 1h43

Fiction has not exhausted the subject of terrorist attacks, but You will not have my hatred does not add much after the excellent Revoir Paris and Novembre. Taken from the book by Antoine Leiris, whose companion and mother of his son died at the Bataclan, Kilian Riedhof’s film does not always avoid pathos. On an equivalent subject, Amanda, by Mikhaël Hers, with Vincent Lacoste, is much finer and moving.


Leave a Comment