ATLANTA, GA.- The High Museum of Art
will host the 11th annual film series French Film Yesterday and Today from Saturday, February 6, through Saturday, February 27. This years series presents the classic French thriller Diabolique alongside the contemporary films Summer Hours, Angel of Mine and The Beaches of Agnès. This annual program is made possible with support from the Embassy of France Cultural Services department and the Consulate of France in Atlanta .
Devotees of French film admire its sophistication, stylishness and the complexity of character that typifies the nations cinema. And this years French Film Yesterday and Today has those qualities in spades, says Linda Dubler, curator of media arts for the High Museum of Art. Few thrillers are as stylish as Diabolique; the subtle, multi-dimensional characters in Summer Hours and Angel of Mine make for engrossing, poignant and suspenseful viewing; and Agnès Varda is a sophisticated visionary whose dramatic and documentary films have broken ground for generations of female artists.
The festival begins Saturday, February 6, with Henri-Georges Clouzots Diabolique, the suspense film credited with having a strong influence on the thriller genre, often noted as one of the greatest films of the 1950s. Set in a French boarding school, Diabolique follows Christina, the frail wife of a tyrannical headmaster, and his mistress Nicole as they are driven to commit murder. It seems that their plot is successful until the headmasters body goes missing and his spirit begins to haunt the two women.
On Saturday, February 13, the series continues with Summer Hours from director Olivier Assayas, which centers on three siblings. Jérémie (Jérémie Renier) works for an international company in China , Adrienne (Juliette Binoche) is a designer based in New York , and Frédéric (Charles Berling) is an economist and academic who remained in France . The three have gathered with their children to celebrate their self-possessed and still vigorous mothers 75th birthday. On this festive occasion, she chooses to announce that the house and its contents must be disposed of after her death. Jérémie and Adrienne readily agree, but Frédéric resists, holding tightly to his roots and to all the family history contained within the house. New York Times critic A. O. Scott notes one of the central themes of this 2008 family drama as being the way that inanimate things accrue value, sentimental and otherwisethe curious alchemy that transforms certain objects into art.
Safy Nebbous Angel of Mine weighs the price of maternal love on Saturday, February 20. Reviewed by Jennie Kermode as being a character-based thriller in the manner of Hitchcock classics Marnie and Vertigo, and a fine example of two great actresses getting to show what theyre made of, the film centers on Elsa (Catherine Frot), a distraught mother struggling to accept the death of her infant daughter. On the brink of losing custody of her son in her divorce, she encounters Lola, the younger sister of her sons friend, and immediately becomes convinced that Lola is, in fact, her daughter. Elsa is soon following Lolas mother Claire (Sandrine Bonnaire) and inventing reasons to get inside their house. Is Elsa deluded, or simply attuned to her most primal instincts?
The series closes on Saturday, February 27, with Agnès Vardas The Beaches of Agnès. The writer and directors most recent work is an autobiographical documentary about memory, love, friendship and art-making. Varda juxtaposes visits to her childhood home in Belgium and the Parisian courtyard that housed her first film studio with clips from many of her films, including Cleo From 5 to 7 and Vagabond. Friends and lovers make their appearances, some disguisedfilmmaker Chris Marker is represented by his trademark cartoon catand some revealed, as is her husband and greatest love, Jacques Demy, the director most famous for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Her continual fascination is evidence of Agnèss gift for finding the language of love in the humblest places, and the gift of beauty wherever she turns her antic vision.