A French and English Film to Stoke Your Globetrotting Fire
One of the best parts about the film festival is that it’s a
cheap and efficient way to travel around the world. On Saturday, I
took a jaunt to Europe, where the French left me
swooning with lofty revelries about art, before the
Brits’ dry wit brought me back down to earth.
For anyone with any interest in Paris’ art
Avenue Montaigne cannot be missed. The film offers moving and funny
insight into the often overlooked ways art can be created, as
witnessed by a country girl struggling to find her way in Paris.
When Jessica lands a job as a waitress in a bar across the street
from a classy theatre, her shocking lack of Parisian propriety is a
breath of fresh air in the midst of the chichi Avenue Montaigne.
Any foreigner who has struggled to fit-in in Paris
will be gratified that Jessica’s ingenuousness eventually pays off,
winning her friendships with many of the famous artists who
frequent the bar.
The original French title Fauteuils d’Orchestre, or
“Orchestra Seats,” is far more revealing of the film’s underlying
message than is the curious English translation. Through portraits
of various collectors, musicians, and actresses and those who serve
them, the film examines the struggle people go through to
get the best seats in the house — and the happiness one
can find in relinquishing those dreams. A subtle illustration of
that possibility is the moment when the theatre’s housekeeper slips
into a classical concert through the back door. Standing alone at
the very back of the room, the housekeeper — who long ago abandoned
her own theatrical ambitions and found contentment instead in the
company of artists — allows the beauty of the music to bring tears
to her eyes.
Scenes of a
Sexual Nature won’t make you care about any of the
characters, but you’ll relate to them all anyway — perhaps more
than you want to admit. Set in London’s Hampstead Heath,
the film is a
series of snapshots into the inner workings of various couples’
relationships. It subtly explores the disconnect between lust and
the rest of our lives, and the trouble this compartmentalization
can get us into. A couple happily signs their divorce
papers between embraces, bemoaning the fact that sex isn’t
everything. A sycophantic man concocts an elaborate lie to explain
his roving eye to his wife. And Ewan McGregor’s
character begs his boyfriend to start a family with him, just
before sneaking off into the woods with another man.
The film’s greatest achievement is in approaching the endless
topic of sex and love solely through dialogue casual enough to be
entirely believable. Anyone who has ever had a crush, broken heart,
or one night stand will find relief in playing the role of passive
observer to the subtle awkwardnesses and intimacies that underlie
all romantic moments.
Both films will show once more today, Monday, January 29.
Scenes of a Sexual Nature will be at the Metro 4 at 1:15
p.m., while the Lobero will show Avenue Montaigne at 4:30