Monthly Archives: June 2013

One last movie review… and an interview (Seattle International Film Festival, part 4)

One last movie review… and an interview (Seattle International Film Festival, part 4)

The Seattle International Film Festival has been a fun ride, but it is time to wrap up… until next year.

Before I hang up my movie critic hat, I would like to tell you about one last film. 

What a delightful, heart-warming movie Low Profile is. The director is Cécilia Rouaud.

A modern romantic comedy, a “Rom-Com” as they say. But one that works. 

“Low Profile”

First, a stellar cast, who clearly enjoyed themselves. Great chemistry between the lead actors, the beautiful and irresistible Vanessa Paradis, (award-winning actress, singer, model, French icon,) and the ruggedly handsome Denis Ménochet (you may remember Ménochet as the French farmer facing an impossible choice in the introductory scene of Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds.) Excellent supporting roles, Léa Drucker, Laurent Capelluto, and the adorable David Carvalho-Jorge, a little boy you won’t soon forget. 

Emmanuelle (Vanessa Paradis) meets Yvan (Denis Ménochet)
Leo (David Carvalho-Jorge,) the young boy who will teach Yvan how to become a father.
Second, the touching, believable story of a modern family. A divorce. A broken heart. Challenging teenagers. A young child who will change the family’s lives forever. A complicated, surly, immature leading man who will learn to trust and love again. The adorable, klutzy, luminous young woman who enters his life at the worst possible time. A neurotic but loving sister and her supportive husband. Paris. The breathtaking Brittany coast.

“Non smokers” Arianne (Léa Drucker,) and Emmanuelle (Vanessa Paradis) meet…

Finally, a great story, written and directed by talented Cécilia Rouaud. This was her first movie, but she is no beginner. Cécilia has worked in the film industry for over ten years with more established directors, as second or first assistant. She learned her trade in the field. 

Cécilia Rouaud (left) with her lead actors, 2012
Even though the movie came out in France last summer (with excellent reviews but a disappointing box office due to a limited distribution,) she came to Seattle last weekend to present Low Profile, because, she says: “That is why we make films; to meet and touch people.”

I was lucky enough to meet her privately after the projection and she answered a few questions for this budding movie critic. The conversation was en français, but I will try and do it justice. 

Cécilia Rouaud –
Interview – by French Girl in Seattle
Sunday, June 9, Seattle, WA.

French Girl in Seattle: 
Cécilia, bonjour. A central theme in your movie seems to be family; but a modern version of the family. People splitting up; starting new lives; children being torn apart; families brought together. This could have been a pretty depressing story. 

Cécilia Rouaud
I came from a stable family background. I always took it for granted. But one day, I had a child, and his father left me. A few years later, I met another man, who was already a father. We fell in love. Today, we are a family, and I love his child like my own. The message in the movie is that we can choose whom we love. We can choose our family. At first, when a family splits up, there is pain, and it appears to be a disaster. But down the road, it is also an opportunity, if you work at it. It can make your life richer. And that is what you see in the movie. Some good things can come out of difficult, painful situations. In that sense, the message is optimistic, I think. 

The movie is also a romantic comedy, but not a traditional one. Many “Rom-Coms” fail. Yours does not. Why?

Cécilia Rouaud:
Merci. I tried to stay away from clichés. The story had to ring true. It had to be believable. My characters are messed up, but they are credible, I think. Vanessa, Denis, or Léa are established actors, yet they immediately came on board when I contacted them. They were very enthusiastic about the project, and loved working together. It shows on the screen. They were my characters, right from the start, and they were able to express the characters’ humanity and make us relate to them.

This was your first movie. You wrote and directed it. But you have been in the business for years. How challenging was it to direct those established actors?

Cécilia Rouaud: 
Directing is finding a way to talk to different people. My actors all work differently. Vanessa [Paradis] occasionally asked me to demonstrate a scene for her. Then she gave it a try… and ended up being much better at it than I
[ed: she laughs.] Denis [Ménochet] always wanted to know every single detail about the character; what he thought; how he liked his coffee… Léa [Drucker] is a technician. All she needs is a word, (“slowly...”) and she gets it. For the child, because he was so young, I mostly wanted to avoid the mechanical recitation of the lines. So I gave no explanations to him; just brief directions: “Look to the right.” “Say these words…” – His face is so expressive. He was a natural. 

Low Profile came out a year ago. How does it feel to be here and still talk about the movie? I assume you are already working on your next project? Can you talk about it or is it still confidential?

Cécilia Rouaud: 
Low Profile is like my grown up child, who has moved out of the house already, but the movie was very important to me, obviously, as my first big project. I hope we find a distributor in the United States. I am not sure we have yet. 

I am currently working on my next film. We have a cast lined up, and would like to start shooting at the beginning of next year. The producer still has to find the financing. It’s always about the money. “Le nerf de la guerre.” The lifeblood of movies.

The new movie is about families too. I think of it as a comedy, but people have told me they find the plot rather depressing [ed: She laughs.] A grandmother is about to die and asks her grandchildren (who do not get along) to take her to her final resting place. Vanessa Paradis and Denis Ménochet will return. [ed: established actor and director] Jean-Pierre Bacri, and Cécile Sallette will also join the cast.

The movie shows how family can destroy you or ultimately, save you. And how one must always remember where one came from.

I wish you the best of luck, Cécilia, and hope you find the financing for your project quickly. Maybe we will meet again here next year, or the following, to celebrate your new movie. Have you enjoyed your visit to Seattle?

Merci. I hope so too. This has been a short, but fun visit. Great city. I was amazed at how enthusiastic American audiences are, compared to the French public. They are not afraid to laugh (or cry,) while they are watching the movie… It is a great feeling for a director to see her audience so wrapped up in the story. 

Merci, Cécilia. 
Merci, Seattle International Film Festival for showcasing American and international talent, once again.
Merci, Ryan E. for your encouragement and support.

A bientôt.

A bientôt, Cécilia. Bonne chance!

Je me suis fait tout petit 
(Low Profile) 
French trailer 


Seattle readers of French Girl in Seattle:

Populaire, reviewed here a few days ago, will be playing once again on Friday June 14 at 7:00pm at the SIFF Cinema Uptown. Don’t miss it! 

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24 Responses to One last movie review… and an interview (Seattle International Film Festival, part 4)

  1. Sad to see this series come to it’s end. I’ve added this one to our list. Thanks for all these great reviews. This is going to make summer movie watching a lot more fun! ‘-)

  2. Veronique, this movie sounds so wonderful! It is so thrilling to hear your take and that you interviewed Cecilia!

    Art by Karena
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    • Bonjour Victoria. The only way you can catch the movie in France is on dvd (maybe) or on TV. It came out last summer… The “non smoking” scene was hilarious indeed. None of the character smokes, but they decide to “grill one” during their heart-to-heart chat 🙂

  3. Bonjour ma chère amie,

    Je suis heureuse de te lire et ce reportage est sensationnelle. Ce film que je n’ai pas encore vu mérite qu’il le soit… Un très certainement bon moment à passer et une autre leçon de vie.

    Je te fais de gros bisous.

    • Bonjour Martine. Comment ça va? Une excellente leçon de vie en effet. Sous des allures de comédie, c’est un film avec un fond sèrieux, dont j’ai bien aimé le message. A bientôt et bisous à Leo le Toucan!

  4. Bonjour Vero!

    YOU ROCK. The French rock….comment dit-on ça…..VOUS TOUS, VOUS ÊTES FORMIDABLE? (or the more colloquial, vous êtes terrible? Somehow that seems difficult to accept!)

    How I love a French film; there is always a twist, always a fresh way to see the usual, and with stellar actors, how can anyone go wrong, unless one is opposed to subtitles! I am so happy that I know the language so I can hear and feel all the nuances and enjoy the art of it all! Merci for the introduction to a new movie for me! Anita

    • Merci Anita. Formidable it is (but the English expression sounds better 🙂

      I am betting you would really enjoy this movie. I am really hoping they find a distributor for the US market so everyone can catch it this summer or fall. Thank you for stopping by.

  5. It looks brilliant Veronique – on my list now.
    And aren’t you the professional journalist/interviewer? I’m VERY impressed! A new career awaits.

  6. Thanks for the review and for sharing your interview with Cécilia. I hope I get to see it. Has it been released on DVD? Just got back from Provence last night so I will have to go back and read your earlier reviews so I don’t miss any good movies.

  7. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your little series and your stint as a movie critic. It’s wonderful to have been introduced to some films which might otherwise have passed me by and I would be happy to spend an evening watching this rom-com too. What an opportunity and an honour to have interviewed Cécilia – the ‘icing on the cake’ at the end of the Festival. My task now is to be able to watch these in the UK!

    • Bienvenue, miss b. Thank you for the vote of confidence! I did have fun for a couple of weeks and will be looking forward to writing a few more reviews next year. I need to do more interviews. It is not as easy as it seems 🙂 A bientôt.

  8. Chere Veronique, what a terrific interview with this talented woman, and the film is one I know I would love. I truly hope they find their way in the States.
    I have missed your series, but would love to backtrack to read more!
    Enjoy your weekend!!

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39 Responses to French Girl in Seattle reviews “Thérèse Desqueyroux” (Seattle International Film Festival – Part III)

  1. Great review; I may gave to pass on this one. I do adore Audrey Tautou; however I need some sunlight and brightness right now!

    2013 Designer Series
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  2. I have always admired Audrey Tautou’s acting capabilities. She does have a wide range and never disappoints. I particularly liked her in “a very long engagement”. Cannot wait to see the movie. Thank you “film critique Veronique”.

    • I am with you Nadege. Audrey Tautou is totally unique; her looks; her “gouaille,” and the way she acts. A Very Long Engagement is an amazing movie. Did you happen to see her in Priceless (Hors de Prix,) the cute romantic comedy with Gad Elmaleh? She was quite memorable in that one, also…

  3. I loved her in the Coco Chanel movie..she must be wonderful in this..I would go to just look at her..and thank you ..I am French and have always pronounced it Deskeeroo:-)
    Truly.Oh lala…
    She is magnetic to me.

    • Well, dear Nana. I would have personally tempted to not pronounce the “s” in their last name… so… there is room for interpretation, definitely. See my comment to Nadege, above, for a couple of excellent movies featuring Mademoiselle Tautou. A bientôt.

  4. I am loving these reviews-after I read here I flip over to nexflix and put the title on my list-often in the save section as the title is not yet available! Looking forward to more reviews-an EXCELLANT job as always!!!

    • Welcome back, g. So happy to hear from you again. I am glad you enjoy my modest movie reviews. I have one more coming up before the end of the festival. Ah, how I wish I’d had the time to see more of the 14 French movies in the selection. Next year, next year… Come back soon, d’accord?

  5. I will absolutely be seeing this one!! It is fun talking to people in line, isn’t it? I’ve heard some crazy stories from total strangers!

    • I would have thought so too, but the “s” is pronounced in the movie, so I went for that version of the name.

      Interestingly, after doing some research online, it seems both pronunciations are acceptable. The Desqueyroux lived in the old Province of Gascony where pronunciation of some names may differ.

      I hope this helps.

  6. You are just a fine critique, Véronique! I LOVE the reality that French movies, at least the ones I know and love from the past depict. The reality I mean, by showing the darker sides of life and how these lives don’t always have a happy ending. I also tend to enjoy the slower development of the story, as French movies tend to show in style! This is fun, to see how well YOU present the story line of a movie, since so many of us love the cinéma! And by the way, I prefer these old-fashion movie houses ANY DAY to the boxes we have strewn all over malls, with their loud and bright lights!


    • Merci beaucoup chère Anita! You will certainly enjoy Thérèse as it shows the darker sides of life in detail — even if it is sometimes difficult to understand how she could be so unhappy in a life of absolute leisure. Maybe what Thérèse really needed was a job, or at the very least, a project of her own (don’t we all?) 🙂

  7. I think I will go Veronique, two out of three on the first list works pour moi 🙂 Haha! I enjoyed your ‘queue chat’, talking to random people can sometimes be so much fun, and then sometimes not so much 🙂

    • Two out of three ain’t bad, Grace 🙂 I am lucky most of my interactions with movie patrons have been pleasant so far– with the exception of that woman, sitting behind me, who got all miffed because I had left my camera on in the darkness to take that shot inside the movie theater 🙂 There is always a crabby one, right?

  8. Sorry – I have been too long absent… I now reviewed your latest posts, all related to cinema. I saw this one about Thérèse. I much appreciated your very neutral way of giving your “critics”. I would do the same! 🙂

    • No apology needed my dear Peter. I know you have been quite the traveling man lately, and who could blame you? One needs to travel sometimes to find the sun (as I very well know…) Welcome back chez French Girl in Seattle. Loved your last piece about Guimard.

      I am glad you enjoy my movie reviews. I don’t believe in over-praising a movie, and I don’t believe in over-killing it either. After all, to each his own, and there is always something people will enjoy in any movie. Or maybe I have been lucky I have not yet seen a VERY BAD movie at the Festival! 🙂

  9. Audrey Tautou, la seule actrice française actuelle que j’adore!Fraîche, unique , originale ,talentueuse et si jolie!
    Quant au film , il fait partie de ces 1% de films français qui sont tres bien, ces quelques perles rares qui nous font encore honneur. MAis hélas, claude Miller n’est plus là, ni Claude Chabrol, ni certains autres , et je ne vois pas la relève arriver..

    • Ah, tu vois. Je savais bien que tu n’étais pas allergique au cinéma français! C’est vrai qu’elle n’est pas mal, la petite Tautou. C’est effectivement un beau film, mais il n’est pas pour tout le monde, ce que j’ai essayé d’expliquer dans le texte.

      Ah, oui, une anecdote assez sympa: J’étais en train d’attendre devant un cinema du Festival avec quelques amis et élèves samedi soir, et nous parlions en français. Une dame devant nous, qui tenait un iPad, s’est retournée, et m’a dit: “Vous êtes French Girl in Seattle? J’étais justement en train de lire votre blog…” — Rires de mes étudiants qui m’ont bien vannée ensuite. Bref, on dirait que c’est le début de la célébrité ma chère Marie. Je me demande si je n’arriverai pas rue du Malonat en limousine finalement, en juillet prochain… 🙂


    • Prend la bien étanche , la limousine, parce que figure toi qu’il pleut encore à seaux!! Là , ça devient un peu inquietant, car des trombes d’eau en juin,ici, comme ça, jamais vu..
      C’est sympa de devenir célebre! enfin, je suppose… Merci pour l’adresse du casting, ma fille a déjà sauté dessus! :o)A defaut de devenir star moi-même..
      Allez, bisous pluvieux!

    • Mais qu’est-ce-que c’est que ces salades? De la pluie à Nice, en juin? Bon, il va falloir qu’Estrosi fasse quelque chose et pronto. Non mais.

      Célèbre, célèbre, n’exagérons rien! 🙂 Je garde la tête froide… tant que je n’aurai pas interviewé Bradley Cooper, c’est promis! Bonne chance à ta fille pour les auditions. Woody – qui n’a pas gardé la tête froide, lui – a des exigences de star, dis-moi!


  10. It’s French and Audrey is in it. Enough reasons to see it Veronique!
    Those people in the queue sounded a bit “up themselves” to me. I recall Capitol Hill as being elegant, expensive and pretentious. I rest my case!

    • Bonjour Craig. You are right about Capitol Hill, at least about parts of it. There is also a very edgy vibe in some sections of the neighborhood. I had heard that story before. I guess Seattleites consider themselves “Blue Blood” while shiny Bellevue across the lake is more “nouveau riche…” — I can’t say that they are entirely wrong. 🙂 Fortunately, I lead a provincial life in the boonies (à la Thérèse D.) so I do not have to take sides. If given a choice, I, too, would pick Seattle. A city girl remains a city girl, even if some neighbors are snooty. 🙂

      Enjoy the movie!

  11. I have to see this film!!!! Once again you have taken me back in time to my student days when I wrote a dissertation – an analysis of love and relationships in the works of Mauriac! Of course Thérèse Desqueroux featured quite heavily. I have shelves of French novels which I keep meaning to reread and I know that would be good for my French too.
    PS Thanks for your wonderful comment on my guest post over at Rosemary’s and you are absolutley correct – I do have a sweet tooth!

  12. Audrey has on her mean Coco Chanel face in this one…hmmm
    Trop foe pour moi me thinks though I did go and watch the trailer again
    I can see having to watch this on AirFrance while they feed you ravioli a from New Jersey.
    Sheer torture!

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