Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Jeune Femme (Montparnasse Bienvenue) ****

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 28th December, 2017

C11F57A1-7678-4A19-B810-FC6279A41A6ALeonor Serraille’s debut feature film, Jeune Femme (distributed in some territories as Montparnasse Bienvenue), won plaudits at the Cannes Film Festival and it is indeed a powerful, if not always enjoyable, piece of work. The focus is unrelentingly on Paula, the young woman of the title, 29 or 31 years old, according to her mood. Actress Laetitia Dosch puts in a tour-de-force as this not very intelligent and slightly disturbed woman tries to construct a new life for herself in Paris after a 10-year relationship with an older celebrity photographer, mainly in Mexico. That relationship hit the rocks but Paula purloins her lover’s cat (a beautiful creature, yet with a totally expressionless face), briefly becomes a hobo but then talks herself into two insecure jobs: as baby-sitter to a rather grumpy little girl (herself clearly starved of parental affection) and as a sales-girl at an upmarket department store. The best comic moment of the film is the interview she undergoes in order to get the second position, describing herself as calm and orderly, whereas by now we know she is just the opposite. Some of the incidents along her picaresque journey to self-realisation and self-fulfilment stretch the viewer’s imagination and I found the characters of both Paula’s mother and her photographer ex somewhat two dimensional. But then this is a film about one woman, made by a woman and with women contributing to much of its creation. In a way, it is a feminist film, in that Paula ends up taking control of her own destiny after her chaotic odyssey, but it is not only women who may find it intriguing, if not flawless.

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