Alliance Française French Film Festival

Le Retour du héros
Photograph: Supplied Le retour du héros

The best of French cinema screens at Palace Cinemas for the 29th year

[Sponsored] Did you ever wonder why France’s film culture is so rich and varied and full of big-name stars? Simple: for every cinema ticket sold in France, whether for a local film or a Hollywood blockbuster, the state gets money to invest into French films. 

The latest fruits of this vibrant industry screen in late February and March, spanning comedy, biopic, drama, women's stories, animation and romance. Here are 13 highlights of the program.

C’est la vie! (Le sens de la fête)

The opening night film is from the directorial duo behind the 2011 smash hit The Intouchables. It’s about a wedding that turns into a nightmare for the party's Basil Fawlty-like planner, Max (Jean-Pierre Bacri).

50 Is the New 30 (Marie-Francine)

Closing night's comedy, from director and star Valérie Lemercier, is about a woman at a low ebb in life who moves back in with her parents at age 50.

Double Lover (L’amant double)

François Ozon is a filmmaker who delivers one of the things we love most about French cinema – effortless eroticism. His new film concerns a former model, Chloé (Marine Vacth) who falls for her therapist (Jérémie Renier), but their romance is complicated by the presence of a malevolent identical twin.

See You Up There (Au revoir là-haut)

At the end of the carnage of World War I, a humble bookkeeper, Albert Maillard (Albert Dupontel), has his life saved by a sensitive artist, Edouard Péricoult (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart), and the two team up after the war to pull an artistic scam.

The Return of the Hero (Le retour du héros)

Jean Dujardin stars as a Napoleonic-era Lothario, Captain Neuville, who fails in his promise to write to his fiancée daily from the front lines, so her sister (Mélanie Laurent) steps in, Cyrano-like. This period comedy is a definite crowd pleaser.

Let the Sunshine In (Un beau soleil interieur)

Juliette Binoche plays a middle-aged artist looking for love in Paris who bounces between men who don’t deserve her, including a caddish, married banker (Xavier Beauvois) and a tentative actor (Nicolas Duvauchelle).

Montparnasse Bienvenüe (Jeune femme)

Debut writer-director Léonor Serraille delivers a startling comedic drama about a 31-year-old woman, Paula (Lætitia Dosch), returning to Paris after living abroad, trying to get a job and get her life in order.  

Mrs Hyde (Madame Hyde)

This variation on the Jekyll and Hyde story stars Isabelle Huppert as a mousy physics teacher at a Parisian high school who becomes something else entirely after being struck by lightning. Serge Bozon’s film cleverly explores inequality in French society.

Jealous (Jalouse)

David and Stéphane Foenkinos (Delicacy) wrote and directed this dark comedy exploring the green-eyed monster. Superstar Karin Viard plays Nathalie, a 50-year-old divorcee who starts to envy the happiness and success of everyone around her.

Rock’n Roll

Real-life couple Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard play themselves in a spoof of their own celebrity. While Canet tries to recapture his youth, Cotillard is too wrapped up in her own acting career to notice. Recently deceased French rock star Johnny Hallyday is one of several celeb cameos.

BPM (Beats Per Minute) (120 battements par minute)

Set in the early 1990s, the film concerns the fight for social acceptance by people living with HIV. An intimate, heart-tugging drama, the film centres on the romance between and activist and a young man living with HIV.

The Workshop (L’atelier)

Laurent Cantet made the 2008 schoolroom classic The Class. His latest is about a creative writing workshop run by a novelist, Olivia (Marina Foïs), in the south of France, and the dark undercurrents of French society unveiled when people from different backgrounds are thrown together.

Tomorrow and Thereafter (Demain et tous les autres jours)

The popular actor and filmmaker Noémie Lvovsky (Rosalie Blum) plays the mentally fragile mother of Mathilde (Luce Rodriguez), a precocious nine-year-old living in a Paris apartment whose best friend is an owl.

The Alliance Française French Film Festival is set to take place at the Astor Theatre, Kino Cinemas, and Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como and Palace Westgarth. Tickets are on sale now.

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