Film Review: GRACE A DIEU (By the Grace of God) (France 2018) ****

By the Grace of God Poster
Trailer

The three men, friends of childhood, will cross, compare their personal experiences and question their life of couple, family and professional.

Director:

François Ozon

French veteran director Francois Ozon has made his name with upbeat comedic drama like SITCOM, LES AMANTS CRIMINELS (The Criminal Lovers), SWIMMING POOL and others.  His mood takes in turn to sombreness in his latest offering GRACE A DIEU (By the Grace of God).  The film is a fictional account inspired by the real life and trials Father Preynat, implicated for acts of pedophilia dating back to 1986.  With a case still then pending before the French courts, the film created an unprecedented controversy and the Father Preynat’s lawyer even asked for the postponement of its release.  At present, French justice has ruled and authorized the film’s release in France in February.  Since then, Father Bernard Preynat has been found guilty of sex abuse of minors and defrocked.

This film tells the moving incredible story.

The film first centres on Alexandre (Melvil Poupaud of Xavier Dolan’s LAURENCE ANYWAYS) living in Lyon with his wife and children. One day he learns by chance that the priest who abused him, Father Preynat when he was in scouts is still working with children.  

The consequences are deeply rooted in Alexandre’s life.  He confronts Preynat who admits the deed but does not ask for forgiveness.  The important moment is examined in the film when Alexandre tells his wife that if Preynat went on bended knee to ask for his forgiveness, he would not know what to do.  The wife replies that if Alexandre forgave him, he would be Preynat’s victim forever.  The film also debates the fact that the church’s aim is forgiveness and redemption at the expense of the victim.  “I don’t want forgiveness,” says Alexandre. “I want Other Preynat sanctioned.  He is a danger to children.”

Alexandre decides to take action and is soon joined by two other victims of the priest, François and Emmanuel. They band together to “lift the burden of silence” surrounding their ordeal. But the repercussions and consequences will leave no one unscathed.  Based on events from the 2019 conviction of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon for concealing the conduct of Father Bernard Preynat, the film  compassionately illustrates the varying effects of trauma on survivors and their families in this urgent portrait of resistance, the power of mobilization, and the mysteries of faith. 

Ozon’s film might not stop child abuse in the Catholic Church forever but his heavy guilt-laden film will almost certainly make the guilty ashamed.

Ozon is known for his twisted sense of humour as evident in his breakthrough film SITCOM or his gay re-telling of the Hansel and Gretel story in LES AMANTS CRIMINELS.  Not much humour can be found in GRACE A DIEU, but he includes one quote of Father Preynat’s victims: “In my life, I have only made love to 3 people – me , my wife and Father Preynat”

The film finally gets a release in Canada on October 18th after official selection at the Halifax, Cinefest Sudbury and Vancouver Film Festival. Grand Jury Prize winner at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, BY THE GRACE OF GOD is a film, told as it is in all its sensitivity and dead seriousness and should be seen for its subject of pedophilia in the Catholic church to be revealed.

Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8095860/videoplayer/vi2285091353?ref_=tt_pv_vi_aiv_1

Film Review: FRANTZ (France/Germany 2016) ****

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

frantz_posterDirector: François Ozon
Writers: François Ozon (scenario), Philippe Piazzo (in collaboration with)
Stars: Pierre Niney, Paula Beer, Ernst Stötzner |

Review by Gilbert Seah

What would be another year without another film from French director Francois Ozon? Ozon’s last two films were JEUNE & JOLIE and LA NOUVELLE AMIE and my favourites are SITCOM and LES AMANTS CRIMINELS. Ozon’s films have often been about twisted love. FRANTZ is no different.

At one point in the film, the protagonist is given the message to live and love life. The advice is more easily said than done. Ozon’s entire film is devoted to prove the fact.

FRANTZ is Ozon’s (which he co-write with Phillippe Piazzo) elegant tale of love and remembrance set in a small German town in the aftermath of World War I (1914-1918). A young woman, Anna (Paula Beer) mourning the death of her fiancé, Frantz forms a bond with a mysterious Frenchman who has arrived to lay flowers on her beloved’s grave. The mourning is representative of a larger national mourning where many Germans (and French) soldiers lost their lives. The question immediate to ones mind is who the Frenchman is and why he is laying the flowers. With Ozon, an open gay director, the best guess (and mine too) is that the Frenchman is Frantz’s gay lover and that the gay relationship was kept from the family. That would have been too obvious. This is not the case. The secret is revealed and only revealed about the half way mark of the film.

Anna’s German home town are just beginning to emerge from the shadow of horrendous war. Frantz’s parents are shattered over their son’s death. The stranger reveals himself to be Adrien (Pierre Niney) who knew Frantz in the pre-war period, when the two of them became fast friends over their shared love of art and, in particular, music. But there is much more to the story, which is revealed a bit at a time in Ozon’s carefully calculated though slow moving tale of redemption.

Anna is convincingly portrayed by 21-year old Paula Beer. Pierre Niney, famous for his lead role in YVES SAINT LAURENT shows off his magnificent (despite the artificially inserted made up war wounds) male body, basking in the son, reminding the audience that this is a film by Ozon. Ernst Stötzner and Marie Gruber are also excellent playing Frantz’s parents Doktor Hans Hoffmister and Magda Hoffmeister.

A bit of needed tension is provided by the village’s hatred for the French. Whenever Adrien walks about alone or at night, there is fear that he might be killed or badly beaten.

There are many issues on display in this post World War 1 drama. The most important is the individual’s search for happiness. This is seen not only from Anna’s point of view but also from her suitor, Frantz’s parents and also from the much oder Mr. Kreutz (Johann von Bülow) who wishes Anna’s hand in marriage after hearing of Frantz’s death.

This is Ozon’s most emotional and sombre film, again meticulously crafted and though might be tedious to some, succeeds in the very end. The film is shot in both German and French, black and white and in colour. Ozon reportedly drew his inspiration from the Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 drama BROKEN LULLABY, with stunning visual references to painter Caspar David Friedrich.

His next film L’AMAMT DOUBLE with his regular Jeremie Renier and Jacqueline Bisset should be something to look forward to.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO_z5BRsFnM

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: FRANTZ (France/Germany 2916) ***1/2

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

frantz_poster.jpg
FRANTZ (France/Germany 2916) ***1/2
Directed by Francois Ozon

Starring: Pierre Niney, Paula Beer, Ernst Stötzner

Review by Gilbert Seah

What would be TIFF be without another film from French director Francois Ozon who has a new film very festival?

FRANTZ is Ozon’s elegiac tale of love and remembrance set in a small German town in the aftermath of World War I, where a young woman mourning the death of her fiancé forms a bond with a mysterious Frenchman who has arrived to lay flowers on her beloved’s grave. Anna was engaged to Frantz, who was killed, and the people in her German home town are just beginning to emerge from the shadow of horrendous conflict.

Frantz’s parents are shattered over their son’s death. The stranger reveals himself to be Adrien (Pierre Niney) who knew Frantz in the pre-war period, when the two of them became fast friends over their shared love of art and, in particular, music. But there is much more in the story, which is revealed a bit at a time in Ozon’s carefully calculated though slow moving tale of redemption.

This is Ozon’s most emotional film and though might be tedious to some, succeeds in the very end. Shot in both German and French, black and white and in colour.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO_z5BRsFnM

Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.

Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com