Sunday 26 September 2021

Streaming on MUBI and on Vimeo on Demand - Janice Tong discovers THE LITTLE TAILOR (Louis Garrel, France, 2010) and MONSTERS TURN INTO LOVERS (Yann Delattre, France, 2015)

Louis Garrel and Léa Seydoux at the premiere of
The Little Tailor

I caught two lovely and sweet short films at the online My French Film Festival back in early July during the first part of the Sydney lockdown, (which I feel is making my life feel more and more surreal - there's no delineation between work and home; and my social mores have eroded to such an extent that I back away when I see friends on the street, rather than greet them with the customary peck on the cheek). When this festival comes around again next year, it is definitely worthwhile checking it out.


I’ve always loved Louis Garrel’s acting and here he scripts and directs this uplifting black and white short film, Petit tailleur /The Little Tailor  which in 44 mins explores a world of language, acting, learning a traditional craft and of course, love. Arthur Igual plays Arthur, a young tailor still learning his craft and his way in the world. I could even go as far as to say that he looks to be the alter ego of Garrel’s film characters at that time; in that Arthur is stubbled, with a mop of unkempt dark curly hair, and his constant uniform of a black coat echos the trademark style of Garrel’s film characters during that period.  

Garrel’s treatment of the film mixes poetry (in dialogue and stiller moments) with a vitality and energy - I especially loved the running sequence (Arthur and his friend sprints through the streets of Paris to get to the theatre). His character actually runs a lot in the film: grasping that feeling of liberation and being carefree with you’re young. 

The Little Tailor - The exhilaration of liberty

A meeting follows a theatre performance of Kleist’s La Petite Catherine de Heilbronn with Marie-Julie (Léa Seydoux) who was Catherine in the play. Arthur and his friend take Marie-Julie and her friend out for supper. Arthur becomes besotted with Marie-Julie, and who wouldn’t, when she quotes Chekhov to him as he walks her home that same evening: “To me loving you means dreaming up ways to cure your anguish and following you anywhere. If you’re in heaven, I’m in heaven. If you’re down, I’m down with you.” 


Léa Seydoux looks incredibly young in this film. It must have been shot close to the time of Christophe Honoré’s La belle personne (2008), her manner, the way she holds herself and tilts her head, and even her heavy bangs and long hair reminds me of the other film throughout.


The Little Tailor - The young lovers, Arthur (Arthur Igual) and
Marie-Julie (Lea Seydoux) are wonderful on screen

Arthur is in love, but plagued by a decision he seems unable to make: between leaving his aging mentor (wonderfully portrayed by Albert Igual), who has said he would leave the atelier to him and whom Arthur feels indebted to; or to follow Marie-Julie on tour - to design costumes for the show. One would be to live the life that has been paved for him; and the other would be to chase the unknown, and perhaps discover oneself along the way. An entire world has to be crossed for him to make his decision. 


The Little Tailor is exhilarating to watch, and it’s black and white cinematography suits the mood of the film perfectly. It has a nouvelle vague feel to its loose way of threading the story together; raw and fresh - it captures an esprit rather than being weighed down by dialogue or narrative. 


Monsters Turn into Lovers

Jeunesse des loups-garous/Monsters Turn into Lovers is one of those surprising films which discards conventional hallmarks of rom-coms to create a fun, endearing and modern tale of love. Nina Meurisse is Julie, she works as one of those food samplers, walking around the street dressed in a bear suit and offering samples of food. She’s just a young person trudging through life making some money to pay her bills.  

Her co-worker Sebastian has fallen for her, badly; he’s so sweetly played by Benoît Hamon that you can’t help but side with him immediately, (plus Julie’s boyfriend is a bit of a, you know, d***k, who underappreciates her and undermines her very presence), but Julie is completely oblivious to this. Will she wake up to his declaration of love?


There are many wonderful moments in this charming short film. It’s showing as part of a trilogy called French Touch: Mixed Feelings on vimeo on demand right now; so catch this short film when you want a little pick-me-up.


Monsters turn into lovers - Sebastian(Benoît Hamon) and
Julie (Nina Meurisse) regard each other in their bear costumes

#filmfestivaleveryday #filmoftheday#jandnfilmfestival

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