Posted September 6, 2012 by Misha Wallace - Social Media Editor in C
 
 

Cafe de Flore


Cafe de Flore is a story of two very different tales of unrequited love set in different time periods.

Cafe de Flore is a story of two very different tales
of unrequited love set in different time periods.

The first is set in the present day French-Canada as we follow successful
international DJ, Antoine (Kevin Parent). Having just left his ex wife
and former soul mate Carole (Helen Florent), Antoine is now seeing Rose (Evelyn
Brochu)
, who he believes is his new
soul mate, much to his ex’s disgust. At the same time the film is intercut with
a story about Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis), a single parent in 1960’s
Paris, who is raising her young son Laurent (Marin Gerrier), who is
suffering from Down syndrome.

Although it isn’t too obvious from the
start, these two seemingly separate stories are bound to be connected, in some
way, by the end of the film. However, rather than making it brain numbingly
blatant, director Jean-Marc Vallee handles it in such away that you are
focusing on a whole host of other things other than looking for this
connection. When it is finally revealed some viewers may gasp in wonder or
repent in disappointment. In order to enjoy the overall feel of the film you
perhaps just have to go with the flow and not allow yourself to be drawn into
the cynicism or logic that may come with this type of movie. This style of
filmmaking has become a staple of a director like Alejandro Gonzalez
Inarritu.
Whilst a lot of Inarritu’s films are often hailed as masterpieces,
Vallee may have succeeded his counterpart with the rich messages and themes
that dominate Cafe de Flore.

From the very beginning of the film
music is presented to us as being a strong and transcendent piece of expression
that can either allow us to escape or interact with others. We see a young
Antoine and Carole bonding over records by The Cure and The Smiths,
whilst Jacqueline and Laurent enjoy regular plays of a song called ‘Cafe’ on
vinyl. In fact the whole soundtrack to the movie is great, with many of the
more meaningful scenes taking place with a huge backing score from the likes of
Sigur Ros and Pink Floyd. Music is always presented as a positive
throughout, whilst other things aren’t so much. Drugs, for instance, are
projected in both positive and negatives lights as is the concept of marriage
and parenthood. Following a week after the DVD release of the Austrian film Breathing,
it is striking to once again be presented with a film that is not afraid to
show a Mother in a less than flattering light. Of course the overriding message
is about love and romance but these other factors contribute to something much
grander and ambitious.

As all these ideas and themes are being
thrown around, it would be easy to overlook the great acting. Everybody
involved gives fantastic, heartfelt performances in what you can imagine was
quite a hard script and plot to comprehend. The best of all these come from
both Vanessa Paradis and Marin Gerrier, the mother and son in the 60’s. Both
give first class turns and their story actually works the best of the two and
would work well as a separate film altogether.

Jean-Marc Vallee is still relatively
new to directing and this is his most inspired film yet. The cinematography is
consistently beautiful and in small instances could be compared to a current
master of the art like Terence Malick. Plus the use of symbolism and the
exploration of dreams means that a level of debt is also owed to both David
Lynch
and Christopher Nolan. Whilst it doesn’t always work in Café,
and often ends up looking like a mashing of ideas, the mere fact that Vallee is
attempting to emulate some of the best directors working today means that this
man has a promising if not audacious future.

If Cafe de Flore was released ten years
ago it would have probably been praised and rightfully compared along side the
likes of Mulholland Drive, Memento and Amores Perros.
Unfortunately that type of narrative may have reached its peak with those films
and their directors. This shouldn’t put anyone off this film though. At times
it can be thoroughly rewarding and at others it can be an agonising let down.
Vallee has made an epic and industrious film that never quite fulfils its
potential.


Misha Wallace - Social Media Editor

 
From the age of 4, Misha Wallace became transfixed by movies like Halloween and The Birds from behind the couch, unbeknownst to her family. This has developed in to an obsession with fantasy and horror films (and a considerable number of cheesy 80s and 90s flicks – but she will not be judged). If she was a character in a film she'd be the girl at the end of a horror movie, doused in blood but grinning victorious. Email: misha.wallace@filmjuice.com or find her any time of the day or night on FilmJuice social media.