Photo of the Week


The Eiffel Tower seen from a rooftop in Montparnasse on a smoggy day. © 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).

Women’s March on Paris
> The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, women will march in cities around the world. Starts at the Parvis des Droits Humains, Trocadero, at 2pm, crosses the Pont d’Iéna and ends at the Mur pour la Paix at 4:30pm.

Behind closed doors
> Book now to visit places in Paris that are normally closed during Paris Face Cachée, including a lab trying to find cures for genetic diseases, located in a glass building with a panoramic roof terrace. Various venues, Paris and suburbs, Jan. 27-29.

Book signing
> Irish author Donal Ryan signs copies of his latest book, The Thing About December. Irish Cultural Center, Paris, Jan. 19.

Late-Night Magritte
> The Magritte exhibition at the Centre Pompidou will stay open until 10pm from Jan. 19 through the last day, Jan. 23.

> Paris Cocktail Week offers master classes, special restaurant menus with cocktail/food pairings and other festivities. Various venues, Paris, Jan. 21-28.

Young European photographers
> The Festival Circulation(s) features emerging photographers. Centquatre, Paris, Jan. 21-March 5.

Picasso at the airport
> The exhibition "Picasso Plein Soleil" presents works made by the master while living on the Côte d’Azur. Espace Musées, Charles-de-Gaulle Airport 2E, Jan. 21-June 15.

Cheap cinema
> During the Festival Cinéma Télérama, you can see a selection of last year’s best films for only €3.50 each with the purchase of Télérama magazine (Jan. 11 and 18 issues). Various cinemas, Jan. 18-24.

Free subtitled French films
> My French Film Festival offers frees streaming of French movies. Through Feb. 13.

Frank Capra Retrospective
> The great American director in the spotlight. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Feb. 27.

Sex, Lies and Corruption
> The Hollywood Décadent festival features such films as Joseph Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor, Valley of the Dolls, and Vincente Minnelli’s Nina. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Jan. 25.

Chinese New Wave
> Nouvelles Voix du Cinéma Chinois screens films by a new generation of directors beginning around the turn of the 21st-century. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Feb. 20.

Winter sales
> Retail sales all over France: through Feb. 21.

Ice-Skating Rinks
> Where to ice skate in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais.

English plays in French
> Two plays by Harold Pinter, Ashes to Ashes and L’Amant, directed by Mitch Hooper, are onstage at the Essaïon through Jan. 24, 2017.


Film - Drama


Avant l'Aube


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 ...


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