I like to think that I have an eclectic taste when it comes to film but more often than not I prefer my movies to contain draaaama, sex and laughs. These conditions are without a doubt the blueprint for most of French cinema.
What I love about most French cinema (aside from the beautiful language) is their even more beautiful women. Even their frumpy women are sensuous. I sit and watch them parade on-screen so effortlessly stylish and bourgeoisie (I just wanted to use it, don’t even know if it makes sense to put it there.) Also their characters are always so open, all the time. I’ve never been to France but everything I’ve learned from French cinema has told me that they are a nation not afraid to speak about what is on their minds. It’s thrilling. I mean, I’m British I also grew up in a West African household so speaking out of turn, or even trying share my feelings so freely, is very foreign (pun intended).
Recently I have got in to the habit of curling up and tucking into a French movie. Subbed, never Dubbed. The movie of choice: La Petite Lili. I watched this on a particularly grey day in London, where the only way I could leave this grim city on the cheap was to watch a movie that would take me out of it.
The film focuses on the relationships between a small group of friends and family during a summers stay in the French countryside. Lili, a local girl from town, is engaged in a wonderful love affair with Brice, an aspiring, over sensitive young film-maker hell-bent on rebelling against the movies that his acclaimed actress mother and her equally well-known director partner, have made. Intent on being more than Brice’s muse, Lili takes the opportunity to work her way into the cinematic world by seducing the older director and subsequently running away with him on a whirlwind trip to Paris.
A few years later, Brice is now successful in his own right and his first film is inspired by that tempestuous summer in the countryside. Lili soon hears about the film and after luring Brice to her apartment, she unashamedly begs him to give her the role of playing her younger self. Like old times she ends up being the star of his movie but his obsession towards her isn’t the same.
La Petite Lili is seeped in beauty (Ludivine Sagnier is mesmerising) but true to French cinema style, all the pretty things are just one side of the coin, there are tragic consequences, inevitable heartbreak and revaluation that comes with it.