Photo of the Week


The Square Louvois, with the Bibliothèque Nationale in the background. © 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).

All-night art
> Nuit Blanche is an all-night festival of outdoor art events, plus special happenings in museums, which will stay open late for free. Various locations, Paris, Oct. 1.

Strange Happenings in St. Germain
> The exhibition Bizarro, with works by a number of artists, fills seven Left Bank galleries with “Bêtes de Scènes et Sacrés Monstres.” Don’t miss the Meta-perceptual Helmets by the Irish duo Cleary/Connolly
at the Librairie Alain Brieux, which allow the viewer to see forward and backward, for example, or the way a cyclops or horse would see. Various locations, Paris, through Oct. 30.

Two meals for the price of one
> Restaurants participating in Tous au Restaurant offer a second fixed-price menu for free. Various locations, Paris, through Oct. 2.

Feel-good films
> Classic movies starring the Marx Brothers, Peter Sellers, Cary Grant and more are sure to raise a smile at the festivalQu’est-ce qu’on Attend pour Être Heureux!, Forum des Images, Paris, through Oct. 2.

Indian films
> Indian film festival. Musée Guimet, Paris, through Sept. 30.

Chanson française
> L’Estival features singers performing in French. Various locations, Saint Germain-en-Laye, through Oct. 8.

Antique fair in a bucolic setting
> A visit to the Foire de Chatou antique market and regional products fair makes a great weekend outing. Chatou, through Oct. 2.

Contemporary arts festival
> TheFestival d’Automne presents leading talents in art, dance, film, theater and more from around the world. Various venues, Paris, through Dec. 31.

Classical, world, jazz & electronic
> The Festival d’Ile de France holds concerts in various locations in Paris and elsewhere, through Oct. 9.

Music & more in park bandstands
> Kiosques en Fête brings life to the bandstands in Paris’s parks with concerts, writing workshops, club meetings and even a square dance. Various locations, Paris, through Dec. 31.

Music on the beach
> Sandy beach and nightly concerts or DJs at La Plage de Glaz’Art. Paris, through Oct. 1.

Amazing gardens
> The popular Festival International des Jardins de Chaumont-sur-Loireis held annually in the park of the Château de Chaumont in Chaumont-sur-Loire, through Nov. 2.


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