Film Review: A Mon Seul Desir

A MON SEUL DESIR (My Sole Desire )(France 2023) **

Directed by Lucie Borleteau



The Paris strip club À mon seul désir (My Sole Desire) is home to a mesmerizing troupe of seductive female performers.  Like a moth to a flame, newcomer Manon (Louise Chevillotte) is drawn to their sensual allure and adopts the stage name Aurore (name taken from The Sleeping Beauty).  Among her fellow dancers is audience favourite Mia (César Award winner Zita Hanrot), a beautiful, aspiring actress who moonlights at the club unbeknownst to her live-in boyfriend.  From identifying which clients she should avoid to booking private dances, Mia serves as a trusted guide on Manon’s erotic journey. But even as Manon begins to experiment with riskier propositions that Mia will not pursue, it is not long before the two begin to develop romantic feelings for one another.  Navigating the complexities of this new life, Manon must face questions about her sexuality as the line between professional and personal desire starts to blur.

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Film Review: Rien a Perdre (All to Play For)

ALL TO PLAY FOR (Rien A Pedre) (Nothing to Lose) (France/Belgium 2023) **

Directed by Delphine Deloget


Delphine Deloget’s ALL TO PLAY FOR is a poorer man’s or rather poor woman’s version of British director Ken Loach's social drams most notably CATHY COME HOME after his first igniting the international screen with the tale of a boy and his kestrel in KES.  Loach knows how to work drama into his characters, often manipulating the contents of his film against authority and government.  ALL TO PLAY FOR looks pale in comparison.

This frequently told tale pits a single mother against France’s social childcare services system.  There is nothing one has not seen before, which is a problem.  The mother, Sylvie played by Virginie Efira (most recognizable after Paul Verhoeven’s BERNADETTE) has her younger son taken away by France’s Child Services after the son, Sofiane (Alexis Tonetti) sets the stove in the kitchen on fire while burning himself trying to make fries.  Elder brother Jean-Jacques also known as JJ (Felix Lefebre) is away on trumpet practice while Sylvie is away at her very difficult job at bartending.  With no adult in the home, Child Care is never too quick at snatching the son to put him in a foster home, especially when Sylvie is not answering their calls.

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Film eview: Avant ques Les Flammes ne s'Eteignent

Avant que les flammes ne s’éteignent (AFTER THE FIRE) (France 2023) ***
Directed by Mehdi Fikri


Injustice against minorities is often favourite fodder for French films, (BATIMENT 5 (LES INDESIRABLES) and LES MISERABLES by Ladj Ly being prime examples.  In an immigrant French suburb of Strasbourg. Karim, a 25-year-old man, has died at the hands of the police. Devastated by the news, his estranged sister Malika (Camélia Jordana) reunites with her family, compelled to seek justice for her slain brother.  The police claim the death is due to an epileptic fit due to drug taking.  Strategizing with mentorly community organizer Slim (Samir Guesmi) and suave private lawyer Mr. Harchi (Makita Samba), Malika soon begins to face a courtroom battle with overwhelming media exposure, while contending with the growing chaos of her hectic everyday — missed daycare meetings, a failing business, and a strained marriage. But she and her siblings Driss (passionately played by rapper Sofiane Zermani, a.k.a. Fianso) and Nour (Sonia Faidi) are anchored by their renewed blood ties. Together they harness the fire of public outrage against a racist criminal justice system.  Director Fikri shows some sympathy for the authorities with the pathologist and the guarding police officer allowing Malika total photos of the bruises from the beatings of the dead brother’s corpse while also showing the judicial process and the court case preparations.  The sight of the bruised body also gets the emotions of the audience going.

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Film Review: LES TROIS MOUSQUETAIRES: D’ARTAGNAN (The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan)

LES TROIS MOUSQUETAIRES: D’ARTAGNAN (The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan)

(France/Germany/Spain/Belgium 2023) ***½

Directed by Martin Bourboulon


After NAPOLEON and FERRARI, it is a welcome change to watch a European epic not spoken in English with foreign accents.  Napoleon had the actors speak English with French accents and FERRARI with Italian accents.  True to form, the French epic, Alexandre Dumas’

LES TROIS MOUSQUETAIRES: D’ARTAGNAN (The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan) is a lavish action adventure film where the French speak French.  It is the first of a two-part epic saga.

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