Review / ‘Folies Bergere’ (M) *** and a half

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Folies Bergere movieMARC Fitoussi’s agreeable film arrives here with a minor identity crisis. “La Ritournelle” in its native French, in the US it’s “Paris Follies”. None of the three is totally appropriate.

On a Normandy farm, Brigitte (Isabelle Huppert) and Xavier (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), both in their 50s, are successful breeders of Charolais cattle, winning prizes with their splendid bull Big Jim. Their two children are independent adults. Their lives combine hard work with pride in their achievements. Their togetherness is comfortable rather than passionate.

Brigitte’s clothes all have high necklines. The rash on her upper chest embarrasses her.

She goes to Paris, mainly to see a dermatologist, also shopping, sightseeing, having lunch with her sister. When she pops out for a smoke on the balcony of her hotel room, an alpha male on his balcony a floor above gently chides her. Jesper (Michael Nyqvist) from Denmark is in Paris at a congress of periodontists.

Fitoussi’s screenplay delivers gratifying credibility and tension. Late at night, Jesper helps Brigitte overcome the embarrassment of her rash. Seeing the pair together Xavier keeps his cool.

Many film romances end with a dramatic crescendo expressed in a cliché – the close-up kiss. Brigitte’s sister has told her of effective eczema and psoriasis treatments at an Israeli health centre using mudpacks and bathing in the Dead Sea, where a visually and emotionally satisfying conclusion unfolds – adults behaving maturely. That more than compensates for any identity crisis.

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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