Starting on November 8, Gloucester Guildhall is showing six relatively recent French films that have so far had limited or no release in UK. 

The highlight of the festival, ahead of its release date of December 31 is Titane, the winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Titane is the story of a young girl, severely injured in a car accident, who has a titanium plate inserted into her skull. As a result she develops a sexual fetish for metal. She also becomes a serial killer. After sex with a Cadillac (yes, that’s with, not in) she becomes pregnant and disguises her pregnancy and sex to pretend to be the long lost son of a fireman (played by Vincent Lindon). There are also a few song-and-dance numbers for good measure. The film, directed by Julia Ducournau, has divided critical opinion from “a thoroughly enjoyable wild ride” (Isabel Stevens, Sight and Sound) to “towering pointlessness” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian).

The remaining films represent mostly mainstream French cinema. There is Délicieux, (2021) a costume drama about gastronomy: in pre-revolutionary France a talented cook is dismissed by his aristocratic bosses and, after the intervention of a mysterious woman, goes on to create France’s first restaurant.

Fahim has been around for a couple of years and is based on the true story of Fahim Mohammed, a young chess prodigy who came from Bangladesh to France with his father, seeking asylum. He went on to become national chess champion in the under-12 age category. The chess master who was his tutor and mentor is played, of course, by Gerard Depardieu.

Spring Blossom (2021) is directed by, and stars, Suzanne Lindon, daughter of the above-mentioned Vincent. A 16-year-old girl, bored by companions of her own age, forms an attachment with a 35-year-old actor. According to the reviews this is apparently less exploitative and unsavoury than we might expect. Bit of a yucky title, though: the French version Seize Printemps isn’t much better.

Un Triomphe or The Big Hit (2020). An out of work actor runs a theatre workshop in prison and his group of actor-convicts stage a production of Waiting for Godot, which they are allowed to take on tour outside the prison. What will happen on the final night in Paris? Perhaps the film’s title is a clue. Let’s hope so.

The other film in the festival is Gagarine, which has been written about before in this newsletter, has been shown at the Roses and is due to be shown at Cheltenham Film Society in April 2022. 

If you book for all six, you pay for five. Each film has both a daytime and evening showing, though not necessarily on the same day. Best to check on the Guildhall Website for full details. 

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