Making sense of the films on offer at the third annual French Film Festival, which starts at Rialto Cinemas today, is no easy task. No preview screeners were forthcoming for assessment by TimeOut and many of the films have not been reviewed outside France, except in the trade press. (Our tip: scout out some online reviews before paying your money).
There are, however, some promising offerings: Robert Guediguian, the filmmaker laureate of Marseille, is well known for meaty and well-acted melodramas (Marius and Jeanette) set in that Mediterranean city. His new film, Lady Jane, is a film noir about gangsters and revenge, but he still casts his wife, Ariane Ascaride, and his best mate, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, who have been in most of his movies.
Veteran director Claude Lelouch turns in the widely admired Crossed Tracks (the French title Roman de Gare, which means what we call an "airport novel", may give a hint of what it's like) about best-selling author Judith Ralitzer (the still-gorgeous Fanny Ardant) who, researching characters for her next book, meets a serial killer.
Literary types may enjoy an adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's novel A Simple Heart, starring Sandrine Bonnaire. Jean Becker (Conversations With My Gardener) returns with Love Me No More and Shall We Kiss, the new film by Emmanuel Mouret (Change of Address) is billed as "another Woody Allen-meets-Eric Rohmer romantic comedy".
Younger viewers may enjoy the animated film U, though presumably they'll need to speak French or read subtitles. And it won't be only the young ones going to see Asterix in his latest adventures: Asterix at the Olympic Games.