Scene Here: Vive the MFA’s Boston French Film Festival!
The 23rd annual Boston French Film Festival at the Museum of Fine Arts (July 11-28) delivers on the frequent film festival claim of offering something for everyone. There’s a new restoration of the classic “Last Year at Marienbad”; auteur Claire Denis’s latest, “High Life”; and a generous sampling of sophisticated comedies, starting with the opening feature “The Trouble With You,” presented in a free screening at sundown on the Huntington Avenue lawn (screening again July 13, in the Remis Auditorium).
Directed by Pierre Salvadori, “The Trouble With You” is an absurdist comedy starring Adéle Haenel (of the Dardennes brothers’s “The Unknown Girl”) as Yvonne, a police officer who inadvertently discovers that her late husband, also a cop, wasn’t the hero she and everyone else believed. Yvonne tries to make up for her husband’s transgressions by befriending Antoine (Pio Marmai), who was wrongfully convicted for her husband’s crimes, and Antoine’s wife, Agnes (Audrey Tautou, who reunites with Salvadori after “Priceless,” 2006, and “Beautiful Lies,” 2010). Helping Antoine and Agnes leads Yvonne into a series of misadventures.
The films of director Gaspar Noé (“Irreversible,” “Enter the Void”) are not for everyone, and he pushes boundaries again with the psychedelic dance/horror film “Climax” (July 12). Shot by Noé himself, the film is set in a nightclub, where a group of young modern dancers rehearse to pulsating music. When they take a break to socialize and flirt, the dancers realize that the sangria has been spiked with LSD. “Climax” then begins a rapid descent into frenzied madness.
Writer-director Olivier Assayas’s latest, “Non-Fiction” (July 19 and 25), is a delectable, erudite comedy about the French literati and the intersecting lives of two couples. Guillaume Canet plays book publisher Alain, and Juliette Binoche is his actress wife, Selena. They navigate middle age in the digital age with longtime friends Léonard (Vincent Macaigne), a novelist, and his girlfriend, Valerie (Nora Hamzawi), a political campaign manager. “Non-Fiction” is the third collaboration between Binoche and Assayas, after “Summer Hours” (2008) and “Clouds of Sils Maria” (2014). Assayas also co-wrote with director André Téchiné Binoche’s “Rendez-vous” (1985).
Alain Resnais’s 1961 classic, “Last Year at Marienbad,” screens July 19 and 28 in a new 4K digital restoration by Rialto Pictures. Resnais blends past and present, real and imagined, in this haunting tale of an unnamed man and woman (Giorgio Albertazzi and Delphine Seyrig) as they wander through a vacant hotel and allude to a possible past relationship. With hypnotic time shifts and flashbacks, Resnais crafts an unsettling journey into memory and the unknown.
The French New Wave is the clear inspiration for romantic comedy “A Faithful Man” (July 21 and 26), which playfully twists expectations about the nature of romantic attraction. Louis Garrel (star of “The Dreamers,” “Godard Mon Amour”) directs and stars as a journalist in love with two women (Lily-Rose Depp and Laetitia Casta).
If you missed renowned director Claire Denis’s “High Life” when it was released this spring, you can catch the festival screening July 19. The visually arresting sci-fi drama stars Binoche as a scientist and Robert Pattinson as part of a crew of death row inmates exiled into deep space on a mission to extract energy from a black hole.
Fabrice Luchini’s memorable performance anchors “A Man in a Hurry” (July 25 and 26), Hervé Mimran’s dramedy based on a memoir by the former head of the auto manufacturer Peugeot. Luchini plays Alain, a workaholic auto company executive who, after a stroke, struggles to regain his speech with the help of a therapist (Leïla Bekhti) and reassess his life.
In the festival’s closing night film, the comedy “I Feel Good,” directed by Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern, Oscar winner Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) plays shady would-be entrepreneur Jacques who visits a commune run by his sister (Yolande Moreau) and concocts a get-rich-quick scheme. Jacques plans to lure the down-on-their-luck commune residents to travel from France to Bulgaria for cheap cosmetic surgery.
Go to www.mfa.org/programs/series/the-boston-french-film-festival.