Un, Deux, Trois, Soleil

Cover Art and Menu: 9/10
The cover art and menu for this gem of a DVD speak for themselves. The film has an amazing personality and the packaging is no different. An emotional journey from start to finish the story matches the somewhat fragmented and colorful design on the cover and carried over to the menu. I love French films, well, the few I have seen, and one thing I can say is that there is a sense of artistry and creativity in the way directors like Blier tell their tales of life, death, drama, and tragedy. I was excited to see such an inviting cover but I was worried that the movie wouldn’t live up to whatever expectations I conjured up just from looking at the box:) I was not disappointed!

Extras & Features: 0/10
Oh, I wanna cry! When I find a movie that I am so endeared to, it’s always a let down to find no goodies to add to the whole DVD experience. Oh well, I’ll just have to call up the director and get the behind the scenes info myself. Well, speaking French might be a problem. I’ll get some of those audio tapes and in a couple of years I’ll go to France and get the extras myself:)

The Movie: 9/10:
This is one of those movies that takes me by complete elated surprise. I had zero, nada, zilch, that’s NO idea what this film would be about. It was next in line for review and as soon as I saw that it was French I was intrigued. You see, I’m from small town America where them thar “foreign” movies ain’t too popular. Since I have to be different, let’s say rebellious just to make me sound more interesting, anything that my fellow small towners didn’t like I was drawn to like flies to, um, sugar 🙂

I haven’t seen very many films from around the world, but what I have seen has been some of the best movie watching time spent in my cinema loving life. Un Deux Trois Soleil is a story for anyone who has felt their life’s journey has been predetermined by circumstance, finances, geography, or whatever. If you have ever thought that where you were born and the influences around you are more of a prison than a life, well, sit down with this film and enjoy the adventure. The adventure of a young woman who’s life has not been much fun, to say the least. She has convinced herself that being born in the projects of southern France to a mentally unstable mother, drunk father, and unsafe surroundings has left her destined for misery.

We see her as a young girl battling with the humiliation of her mother’s insanity coping the only way she can, in her mind. As she grows up the film follows her, and her memories as a series of colorfully jumbled thoughts, disappointments, and emotionally handicapping events.

She progresses from childhood to womanhood with no grace or dignity, but instead as a toy for the local hoodlums. Her innocence is mirrored by her ability to detach herself from what was happening around her only because she needs some kind of attention. Becoming an adult comes with the standard heart aches and much more. She struggles with the death of her first love, the suffocation of poverty, and complete and utter loneliness. All which leads to a rich fantastic reality where she moves from childhood to adulthood with mixed memories of pain, hurt, let downs and general neglect.

This is not a story told in a straight line. Pieces of her life are layered one on top of another as we slowly watch her become a woman, despite her obstacles. At a certain point in her life she comes to terms with the decision to get married to a man she’s not necessarily in love with. She tells him that being with him is not entirely unpleasant and that’s the best she can do. She says it with the same innocent but injured smile she wears throughout her tortured life.

The performances are all hypnotic and make every scene a pleasure to dig your film loving teeth into. Anouk Grinberg who plays Victorine goes from a manic childlike character to a somewhat jaded but still hopeful woman. She’s charming and funny and I would love to get a collection of her films to see her in more roles. Olivier Martinez gives an amazing performance from early in his career and adds a great flavor to the one part of Victorine’s life she remembers fondly. You might know him from the recent Taking Lives or from his roles in S.W.A.T and Unfaithful. He’s a familiar face but he’s not the star of this movie as a lot of sites and DVD stores will have you believe. Anouk is the star of this film, no doubt about it.

Marcello Mastroianni is stunning as a weathered alcoholic who loves his family but can’t ever seem to find his home. He roams from door to door, drink to drink never knowing that all he needed to do to make his daughter feel loved was to take the time to carry her bag to school. He’s endearing but his abandonment of his family makes it hard to sympathize with him. Mastroianni provides us with everything from pure charm to despicable drunken arrogance and in the process makes it hard to either like or dislike his character. That’s exactly what our leading lady is struggling with. She loves her father, but his refusal to leave the drink alone makes her somewhat bitter, hardened and always looking to fill the void he has left in her life.

As is the case in life her perspective is that she is to marry the first man who will have her, keep herself in good shape, have children and continue the chain of poverty. She doesn’t see that the misery of her memories and the presence of these ghosts from the past are the only things that are hold her back from being happy. I think we can all say the same thing.

It’s a great film that I am thrilled to have seen and I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates a good story, subtitles (unless you speak French), and a visionary director who really knows how to bring an emotional charge to the screen.

Value: 8/10
For $15 you get a fantastic addition to your international collection. I do recommend this one if you like a great story told with a visual flair. The extras are sadly absent, but I can’t hold that against the DVD entirely. So, with a great film on the disc I have to keep the score at a respectable 7 out of 10 for the package as a whole. The film is definitely a 9, but some of us want more more more than just the movie on the DVD.:(

Overall Score 8/10