Strange Gardens

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Drawn from the successful French novel of the same name by Michel Quint, this is traditional Gallic fare, a warm-hearted revisiting, with comic inflections, of Resistance values, camaraderie and courage. Fifteen-year-old Lucien is at odds with his father Jacques, annoyed most notably by his solo clown routine. The tension increases, prompting Jacques' best friend André to reveal the roots of his pal's pursuit. Flashback to the duo's wartime exploits. Late arrivals to the Resistance, they sabotage a signal box, are rounded up and threatened with execution. While they await their fate with two other suspects in a pit overnight, a clowning German sentry shows them the power of high spirits, and a good dose of humanity. The morning will bring plot twists and developments that ground the legacy of courage on a number of fronts, as well as developing romantic narratives to general satisfaction. There are solid performances all round, and though no real formal surprises from Becker (still best known in Britain for his smouldering familial melodramas Elisa and One Deadly Summer), his heart, and that of the picture, are firmly in the right place, nurturing humour out of hardship and compassion out of conflict.

Release details

Duration: 97 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jean Becker
Screenwriter: Jean Cosmos, Guillaume Laurant, Jean Becker
Cast: Jacques Villeret
André Dussollier
Thierry Lhermitte
Benoît Magimel
Suzanne Flon
Isabelle Candelier
Victor Garrivier
Bernie Collins
Jean-Claude Durand
Michel Cordes
Manfred Andrae
Alexander Held
Michael Hanemann
Damien Jouillert
Nina-Paloma Polly
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