This week at the Cinemania film festival

New films by Cédric Klapisch and Michel Hazanavicius screen today and tomorrow as part of Cinemania.

Cinemania, the festival of French-language films screened with English subtitles, continues through Nov. 22. This year’s edition of Cinemania is happening entirely online, with each film being made available for a 48-hour period (and almost every film appears on the festival schedule twice).

Deux moi

Deux moi by Cédric Klapisch

We can all agree that the world we live in is perhaps not ideal; that technology has made things easier in some respects but significantly harder in many others, and that boomers and Gen X have plenty to look at and complain about. It’s okay to think these things, I think, but it’s by all accounts extremely embarrassing to explore them in the form of an unbelievably po-faced rom-com where “the malaise of the digital world” is front and centre in every single interaction. Cédric Klapisch’s Deux moi joins the ranks of such embarrassingly earnest dogshit as Jason Reitman’s Men Women and Children and Dan Fogelman’s Life Itself in the pantheon of films that are so earnestly convinced of their obvious messages that they become gently psychedelic expressions of a world so “real” it feels like a simulation.

Rémy (François Civil) works in an Amazon-type warehouse and lives alone in a tiny, pretty gross Parisian apartment; Mélanie (Ana Girardot) is a scientific researcher who lives next door in a much nicer apartment, and never the twain shall meet. Both start seeing therapists for different reasons: Rémy because of a panic attack (the long-buried cause of the panic attack is so sad that it causes his shrink to retire prematurely when he discovers it) on the subway and Ana because of generalized depression following a tough break-up. Both are generally displeased with life and singledom, floating through life without much thought to what could change. 

Rémy and Mélanie spend pretty much the entire movie separated, stuck to their phones and their alienation but mysteriously living practically parallel lives. Not much concrete happens in Deux moi — Rémy gets a cat, Mélanie goes on Tinder for a spell, Rémy has an aborted date with a co-worker, Mélanie has to present a thesis for work — but instead of treating it all like a slice of life, Klapisch underlines every single moment with a kind of cosmic happenstance portentousness that makes nearly every second of Deux moi an unbearably corny experience. Issues of the day are shoehorned in with the subtlety of Denys Arcand adapting a Journal de Montréal op-ed with a sprinkling of “straight men really be living like this” memetic tomfoolery. In short, Deux moi is an unbearable mix of earnestness and broad-side-of-a-barn social commentary — which, to some extent, is an actual reflection of the times. Unfortunately. (Alex Rose)

Le prince oublié

Le prince oublié directed by Michel Hazanavicius

In Le prince oublié, Djibi (Omar Sy) is a widower. Every night, before going to sleep, he tells his 11-year-old daughter a fantastic story about an imaginary world filled with princes, dragons and other fantasy creatures. A coming of age story with larger than life fantasy elements involved, the film deals with the struggle of facing the future head-on. How do you move on after tragedy? How do you deal with your child growing up? It’s much easier to stick around in the sunny-toned fantasy world you invented, even at the expense of personal growth. 

Le prince oublié channels most of Michel Hazanavicius’s greatest virtues as a filmmaker. It’s bright and charming. His characters consistently resist the trappings of reality in favour of the fantasy version of themselves they created. This film, quite undeniably, is geared towards children though it has enough charm and cleverness to sustain an adult’s attention. The fantasy world unfolds like a giant film set with characters and monsters wandering about between stories. There are supporting characters playing directors and stage managers, controlling the navigation of the story. The metatextual element creates a smart way to showcase how his daughter develops a stronger authorial voice in her fantasies. 

While not a film for all audiences, you could certainly do worse. Closer in spirit to his OSS 117 films, Le prince oublié features a wide range of larger than life characters and moments. It’s silly and adventurous, and the comedy might be broad, but the actors pull it off with bucket-loads of charm. (Justine Smith)

For more programming details and to rent films, please visit the Cinemania website.

For more film coverage, please visit the Film & TV section.