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aka - Vie Rve Des Anges, La
France 1998
Directed by
Erick Zonca
113 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Dreamlife Of Angels

There is a clearly identifiable strain in contemporary French realist cinema, loosely identifiable as the anti-social adventures of a pair of young women (think of Baise-Moi, 2000, A Ma Soeur, 2001). Erick Zonca's film is a seemingly indistinguishable member of this category but despite an unpromising first half that devotes overmuch time to depicting the aimlessness and alienated state of the protagonists' lives it gradually grows into a convincing and insightful portrait of its subjects and, by extension, young women like them everywhere.

The film's title well captures its spirit. Both young women are sensitive souls who mask their vulnerability behind poses of tough indifference in the case of Marie (Natacha Régnier) and playful irresponsibility in the case of Isa (Élodie Bouchez). The film follows the girl's brief, intense friendship as they bond and break apart in the context of their estrangement from mainstream society, effectively represented by Grégoire Colin as the complacent cad who wins, then breaks, Marie's heart.

Bouchez and Regnier deservedly shared the Best Actress Award at Cannes in the year of the film's release, amongst many other awards they and the film picked up. Well-scripted by Zonca with Roger Bohbot and effectively shot by respected cinematographer Agnès Godard (who has worked a lot with Catherine Breillat) the film takes the typically trying elements of realist cinema (the film is set in the coldness of a Lille winter, the girls are poor, they are staying in the flat of a woman who has died in a car accident, her daughter is in a coma and so on) and mixes them with moments of humour, charm and tenderness to create a strongly but quietly empathetic story of the hardships of life and the differing way young people struggle to cope with them or otherwise. 

 

 

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