AWFJ Presents BREATHE – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Based on a novel by French author Anne-Sophie Brasme, director Mélanie Laurent’s Breathe is a story propelled by the mercurial friendships of teenage girls. The drama rises on the rich performances of its two leads, Lou de Laâge and Joséphine Japy. During their fast and intense relationship, Sarah (de Laâge) accuses Charlie (Japy) of playing the victim—but Sarah’s pretty good at that herself. There are no clear villains and heroes in the film until the tragic (no spoilers) climax.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 22, 2022: SKIES OF LEBANON

Quirky and poignant, creative and heartfelt, Chloe Mazlo’s drama Skies of Lebanon is a singular achievement in inventive filmmaking. As she tells the story of Alice (Alba Rohrwacher) — a young Swiss woman who leaves home in the 1950s and makes her way to Beirut, where she falls in love, marries, and raises a family — Mazlo serves up a unique mix of tone and style that’s likely to both charm and move viewers.

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MY DONKEY, MY LOVER AND I – Review by Leslie Combemale

When teacher Antoinette Lapouge (Laure Calamy) takes the stage with her class of 8-year-olds to sing what can only be described as a completely inappropriate love song to a parent assembly dressed in a low-cut silver lamé gown, it’s clear she’s a bit of an emotional fruit loop. Her students sing the verse, but she joins in, dress clinging, passionately singing the chorus. Boundary-issues alert! This is the opening scene of writer/director Caroline Vignal’s comedy of self-discovery My Donkey, My Lover & I.

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SKIES OF LEBANON – Review by Jennifer Merin

Skies of Lebanon opens the mind to deep consideration of the invasive impact that war and social strife have on families who work hard to contribute to society and, in return, just want to live in peace. Thanks to its genre-defying style, it is a lot of fun while it’s being quite serious in touching on themes that are currently relevant around the world, as well as right here, at home. The film is a must see.

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SKIES OF LEBANON – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

Most of us strive for happy lives that are filled with loving partners and family, satisfying work, and pleasant surroundings that meet our needs. Many of us achieve these goals, but unimagined forces can bring the fulfilling lives we work to achieve crashing down around us. It is this erosion of normal lives and social connections that French Lebanese director and co-screenwriter Chloé Mazlo explores in her tribute to her parents and their home country in Skies of Lebanon.

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EIFFEL – Review by Martha K Baker

You have to see Eiffel to decide if the film is corny fiction or a romantic narrative feature. Watching it is not difficult, given the seductive scenes of heaving bosoms and rising monuments. It’s just that “Eiffel” can be seen as a partial biography of a great engineer or as gooey romance made up to fill out a science story.

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HAPPENING – Review by Martha K Baker

Watch Anamaria Vartolomei’s face. From start to finish of the tense thriller, Happening, Vartolomei portrays the many moods of her character. Anne is a bright student (her mother thinks she’s gifted, of course), who finds herself in what used to be called, “the family way.” The country is France and the decade is the Sixties, and Anne is in deep trouble. Happening is a canny film, written by Marcia Romano and director Audrey Diwan. They based the script on Annie Ernaux’s novel of her experience as a young woman seeking to end her pregnancy at a time when doing so, or helping, or thinking about helping, is criminal.

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HAPPENING – Review by Lois Alter Mark

If there was ever a movie meant for this particular time in history, this is the one. The winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Audrey Diwan’s Happening is a quietly devastating look at what happens when abortion is illegal. The fact that it’s coincidentally being released in the U.S. the same week a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion revealed that Roe v. Wade is on the verge of being overturned feels like it should be taken as a sign. And, more importantly, a wake-up call.

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DECEPTION – Review by Joan Amenn

It helps, but is not mandatory, to know something about the work of author Philip Roth when viewing this adaptation of his novel, Deception. The book is mostly dialog between its two main characters so any attempt at translating it to film is a daring project. Director Arnaud Desplechin takes it on with a strong sense of the rhythmic nature of the give and take between the two lovers that make up the plot. However, the underlying themes of self-loathing and obsession bog down the story, making it feel stifling and static at times.

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HAPPENING – Review by Jennifer Green

Happening (L’Evénément) is a riveting film, from start to finish. The story about a young woman who finds herself unintentionally pregnant in 1960s France, a time and place where abortions were illegal, is universal and powerful, at once heartbreaking and liberating. Sixty years have passed since that era, yet the film holds powerful messages today in the face of pushback on women’s reproductive rights. The film is based on the semi-autobiographical book by Annie Ernaux.

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