Photo of the Week

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Left to right: Eiffel Tower, Louvre Pyramid, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and Ferris Wheel. © Paris Update

 

Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

Drawing through the ages

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"Apples" (1944), by Henri Matisse. Eric Coatalem Gallery.

> Salon du Dessin: 39 galleries showing works on paper, from Old Masters to contemporary. Palais Brogniart, Paris, March 22-27.

Contemporary drawing fair
> Drawing Now: 73 galleries, Carreau du Temple, Paris, March 23-26.

More contemporary drawings
>Ddessin: 20 galleries. Atelier Richelieu, Paris, March 24-26.

Art and design fair
> PAD (Paris Art + Design),
67 galleries, Tuileries Garden, Paris, March 22-26.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, March 23-May 28.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Audrey Dana's Si j'Étais un Homme, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, Feb. 24.

Documentary film festival
> Cinéma du Réel showcases documentaries from around the world. Various venues, Paris, March 24-April 2.

Suburban blues
> The Banlieues Bleues festival brings major French and international jazz acts to the Paris suburbs. Various venues, through March 31.

Before and after ecological disaster
> The Chic Planète festival presents two types of films, those celebrating the bounty of the earth and science-fiction views of what will happen after an ecopalypse. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 13.

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Film - Drama

 

Avant l'Aube

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Vincent Rottiers plays the brooding Frédéric.

When I saw that Raphaël Jacoulot’s Avant l’aube (Before Dawn) stars three of the finest actors of their respective generations, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Sylvie Testud and Vincent Rottiers, it felt like ...

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Vincent Rottiers plays the brooding Frédéric.

When I saw that Raphaël Jacoulot’s Avant l’aube (Before Dawn) stars three of the finest actors of their respective generations, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Sylvie Testud and Vincent Rottiers, it felt like an opportunity not to be missed.

Clearly inspired by the movies of Claude Chabrol, where what is not said is often more important than what is said, Avant l’Aube concerns the disappearance of a client from a luxury hotel in the Pyrenees. When the client’s body is discovered in a ravine, it is clear that the owner of the hotel, Jacques (played by Bacri), and his new young employee Frédéric (Rottiers) know or have seen more than they are letting on to the disarmingly chaotic detective (Testud) who is investigating the disappearance. Even more strangely, the hotel owner has begun to give his employee special privileges, lodging him in the hotel and allowing him to share meals with his family, much to the puzzlement of his wife (Ludmila Mikaël) and the hostility of his son (Xavier Robic).

The film works well as a study of how an isolated young man gradually begins to trust his boss and to feel accepted. The complicity between the two men (one unable to articulate his thoughts and the other purposefully concealing his intentions) is fascinating to behold, and the class distinctions between the hotel porter and wealthy hotelier are portrayed with delicacy, while the mountainous setting and winding snow-swept road, which plays a significant role throughout, make for a visually impressive experience. As a thriller or detective story, however, the movie is perhaps less remarkable: there simply does not seem to be enough intrigue or complexity to sustain the momentum. As a result, the director resorts to a rather ponderous soundtrack to ratchet up the tension.

Of the three main actors, Testud has the easiest role as the bumbling detective, but she displays great comic timing. Bacri, who must be one of the subtlest actors around, is simply not given enough opportunities by the director and the screenplay to explore the full range of his craft, but Rottiers’ quietly intense performance confirms him as one of the stars to watch.

Nick Hammond

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Vincent Rottiers