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Dune, Madame de Sévigné, The Mother of All Lies... Films to watch or avoid this week

Science fiction by Denis Villeneuve, 2h46.

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Dune, Madame de Sévigné, The Mother of All Lies... Films to watch or avoid this week

Science fiction by Denis Villeneuve, 2h46

Our film journalists Étienne Sorin and Constance Jamet are divided on this second part of the wanderings of the noble Paul Atréides, played by Timothée Chalamet, on the desert and hostile planet Arrakis.

With Dune: Part One, Denis Villeneuve succeeded in his bet. The Quebec director managed to transform the science fiction novel by the American Frank Herbert into a spectacular film. After this first part and the establishment of a dystopian universe, the second was expected as The Empire Strikes Back, the best episode in the George Lucas saga. Spice (the only resource on the planet Arrakis) and epic. Sweat, blood and tears. The ace. Denis Villeneuve gets stuck in the sand. The play on words is easy but the crossing of the desert is long (nearly 3 hours) and painful for the viewer. This sequel begins where the first part ends. Paul Atréides (Timothée Chalamet) survives in the company of the Fremen, mystical nomads who believe they see in this young prince the Messiah who will lead the holy war. Some doubt and suspect him of being a false prophet. This sectarian and simplistic religiosity is at the heart of the book. It takes precedence over environmentalism and court intrigues. Villeneuve is unable to extricate himself from it. He sidesteps action scenes, dodges fights, shortens battles. Sandworms no longer surprise. The ride of the giant earthworm by Paul Atréides is thus technically impeccable. However, it does not arouse any emotion, unlike the tamed dragon in James Cameron's Avatar, an initiatory ordeal transforming the Na'vi into Toruk Makto. Dune, despite its burning sand, is a cold monster. E.S.

“What gave me the energy to return to Arrakis was the possibility of revisiting the Dune universe and doing better,” admitted Denis Villeneuve during his visit to Paris. Promise kept for Quebecers. After carefully arranging his pieces, he reveals their full extent in this second part. Without denying the contemplative and meditative atmosphere which had been his strength, the filmmaker enters into the reality of the guerrilla war (and soon the war) which pits the nomadic Fremen against the empire and its cronies the Harkonnen. More muscular in the action, Dune II picks up where we left off Paul Atréides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), taken in with suspicion by the Fremen. Denis Villeneuve picks them up with an ambush and merciless hand-to-hand combat. Outlined in the first part, the political and religious dimension comes to the fore in this mastered epic. Is Paul or is he not the messiah who will lead the Fremen to freedom? Dune II has no shortage of spectacle. Without it being to the detriment of the characters. Timothée Chalamet has more to impose, to play and less to simper. The time for the initiatory story is over. The young prince became a reluctant leader of men. But strategist. C.J.

Also read: With Dune, director Denis Villeneuve walks on quicksand

Drama by Isabelle Brocard, 1h32

The Marquise de Sévigné would not exist today without her daughter. Published post-mortem, his letters to Françoise, who became Countess of Grignan, established his literary posterity. They contain everything that characterizes the marquise: her liveliness, her finesse, her spirit, her intelligence but also excessive maternal love. It is this bond between mother and daughter that director Isabelle Brocard dissects in Madame de Sévigné, this mother who writes to her daughter: “My heart and imagination are completely filled with you. I can't think about it without crying, and I always think about it, so the state I'm in is not sustainable. » This is the same mother who, a few years before, said to Françoise: “You are the prettiest girl in France” and hatched a plan to marry her. At the start of the triumphant Grand Siècle, the plan necessarily involves Versailles. During a party in the gardens, the young girl catches the eye of the king but the mother is watching, who scolds the two lovebirds. This crime of lèse-majesté will be worth the disgrace of the young Madame de Sévigné. Which suitor will dare tread on the king's heels? Salvation will come from the Count of Grignan. He will bring his name, Françoise her dowry. In the background lies a troubled era, spared neither wars nor political dissensions. Isabelle Brocard describes with commendable sincerity this world in dresses and long wigs which spills out on paper, making hearts speak beneath the crunching of feathers. Above all, it never betrays, through anachronisms or excessive licenses, this sumptuous language which has come down to us through the grace of such a particular correspondence. F.D.

Also readMadame de Sévigné, by Isabelle Brocard: the marquise literally

Documentaire d'Asmae El Moudir, 1 h 37

In Asmae El Moudir’s family, photographs have long been banned and a taboo subject. Twenty years later, the Moroccan filmmaker decided to question this absence in The Mother of All Lies, a magnificent documentary on the lies and secrets of her childhood linked to other more collective secrets, buried in the history of his country. In the absence of preserved family images, she will reinvent them herself. With her father, a former mason, she made a miniature model of their home and the working-class district of Casablanca where she grew up, to reenact their story. Each member of the family is invited to participate in this unique system. Memories come back, confronted with the director's questions. At the center of everything is the grandmother. With a dark gaze that pierces her interlocutor, an imposing and silent presence, the old lady is not ready to let herself be drawn into this great revelation nor to confide her secrets, the weight of which we nevertheless sense in family history. As terrible as it is incredibly touching, she embodies the soul of the film. A sharp sign, finger on mouth, to command silence when asked about the disappearance of a young woman, their neighbor's sister. The secrets are however revealed despite the denial and the decades of silence of this Moroccan generation of the “years of lead” forced to remain silent. Un certain regard directing prize and Golden Eye for best documentary at Cannes in 2023, this powerful and chilling autofiction constructed as an intimate investigation draws, far from clichés, a fascinating portrait of Moroccan memory. V.B.

Also read: Our review of The Mother of All Lies: duties of memory

Drama by Abderrahmane Sissako, 1h49

This is a woman who says no. At the last second, on her wedding day, she utters the fateful word in front of a stunned crowd and her stunned fiancé. He shouldn't have cheated on her the day before, either. Neither one nor two, Aya leaves her Ivory Coast to settle in Canton. This sudden decision is hardly explained to us. The heroine sets down her suitcases in Chocolate City, a district where Africans gather. Obviously, she intends to change her life: here she is sporting a tousling mane like Angela Davis. This detail contrasts with the profession she chose. She works in a tea shop. It is an art. The boss, divorced with two children, teaches him precise gestures, tiny secrets, shows him how to pour the water, the best way to grip the cup. There is a whole ceremony. Love is pretty similar, right? Another metaphor. The film has no shortage of them. They are a little invasive. The innocent spectator would have difficulty recognizing in this story the hand of Abderrahmane Sissako, the author of the magnificent Timbuktu. For Black Tea, he acts like a helpless chef who has put too many dishes in the oven and no longer knows in what order to serve them, simply bringing them, panicked, to the customer who can't wait any longer. We get lost in this night market where good-natured police officers go about their rounds. We get lost in these unexpected lurches in Cape Verde, get tripped up in these flashbacks and digressions. Time infuses drop by drop. A languid rhythm bathes this curious failed mixture of In the Mood for Love and Venus Beauté (Institut). IN.

Also readOur review of Black Tea: tea for cravings

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