The 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, the world's most prestigious, wrapped up this year's festivities a weekend ago, May 24.
One of the Diaspora films that screened at the festival, as an official selected, was Faire L’Amour, Haitian director Djinn Carrénard's sophomore effort - a film that opened the festival's International Critics' Week sidebar - the oldest parallel competitive section of the Cannes Film Festival, which showcases first and second feature films by directors from all over the world, and has remained true to its tradition of discovering new talents.
Cannes Film Festival reviews of the film mostly appreciated what it had to offer; starting with The Hollywood Reporter, who called it, "an overlong but impressive slice of realism with some poetic touches."
French self-taught director Djinn Carrenard impressively avoids the sophomore slump with FLA, his long-awaited follow-up to his much-lauded first feature, Donoma. Made with money from several official sources, though -- somewhat amazingly -- without much of a professional crew, this love story involving a deaf rapper, his pregnant girlfriend and the latter’s jailbird sister, should have a good shot at penetrating French arthouses and could even score some theatrical action offshore despite a nearly three-hour running time. As in Donoma, the film’s unifying theme is how the characters deal with different forms of love and the again, the acting is naturalistic, with the three protagonists charismatic and believable. Like [Abdellatif] Kechiche’s work, the results are both life-like and appropriately exhausting.
The review is referring to Tunisian filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche's critically-acclaimed lengthy drama/romance Blue Is the Warmest Color, which won the Palme d'Or (the festival's highest honor) at the Cannes Film Festival last year. It clocked in at just about 3 hours.
Next, Variety had this to say about the film, calling it:
An insightful film about the challenges of love and connection that could stand to be far shorter and less shouty. Centering on a Parisian rapper who has to deal with sudden deafness and a woman who’s on temporary leave from prison to see her son, “Faire: L’amour” (abbreviated as “FLA”) buries a poignant, confrontational exploration of loneliness and self-absorption in so many screaming matches and showy film techniques that it becomes a rambling shout-a-thon. As with his 2010 debut, “Donoma,” Haiti-born French helmer Djinn Carrenard (who co-directed and co-produced with Salome Blechmans) expertly elucidates his characters’ clumsy efforts to love and connect, but a drastic reduction of the film’s 148-minute running time could sharpen its dramatic focus and help it break out beyond Eurocentric arthouse niches.
And finally from Screen Daily:
Faire: L’amour (or FLA) delivers an almost forensic exploration of the flaws and failings in a trio of characters desperately seeking an elusive happiness. Told in a style that echoes past masters of the nouvelle vague from Jacques Rivette to Agnes Varda, it offers a grueling but compelling emotional work-out on a par with a session of John Cassavetes improvisation or an Edward Albee play. Perhaps it never quite justifies its running time in the way that Blue Is The Warmest Colour did but there is enough raw emotion and filmmaking virtuosity to command your attention and confirm the promise of Carrenard’s award-winning debut feature Donoma (2011). The marathon running time and sometimes unsympathetic characters will limit the film’s commercial appeal but it should attract healthy Festival interest and support from Francophile audiences and those with a track record of supporting audacious rising talents.
Another Kechiche comparison is certainly telling. It gives audiences who've seen Blue some idea of what to expect in FLA. Also universal here are criticisms of the film's length; although apparently the raw, realistic and thorough emotional performance help counter.
We weren't at Cannes this year, so there is no official S&A review of it. Although, eventually that will be rectified. I also expect that we'll have our opportunity to chat directly with Djinn - something we haven't had the pleasure of doing yet.
In the meantime, listen to the 12 1/2-minute interview he (and co-writer Salomé Blechmans) gave to Fred.FM - a rare English-language interview. The majority of interviews he's given have been in French, given that he's a Frenchman!
The interview covers the production of the film, as well as its content, specifically a breakdown of the story, its themes, the style, the risks taken, and more. They also take a brief trip down memory lane and revisits his first film, Donoma.
The film, budgeted at €2.7 million, or about $3.5 million, is a considerable jump (from a few hundred dollars for his first film, to a few million for his second). I'm curious to see how that affects the end product. It's all very well worth listening to.
Carrénard actually wrote Faire L'Amour with Salomé Blechmans, before he made Donoma - with both films seemingly exploring similar themes revolving around the dynamics of several, interconnected Paris couples. And also like Donoma, Faire L’Amour's cast comprises of mostly amateur, first-time actors, which Carrénard selected from acting workshops he conducted earlier 3 years ago.
The film was actually grindingly shot in stops-and-starts throughout 2012.
Listen to the interview below, and watch a clip from Faire L'Amour and check out its poster, beneath it:
And below is a clip, and poster: