BRILLIANTLOVE (N/C) ** DIRECTED BY: ASHLEY HORNER STARRING: NANCY TROTTER LANDRY, LIAM BROWNE, MICHAEL HODGSON
EXPLICIT sex and nudity have become such frequent occurrences in arthouse cinema that they no longer have the power to shock. In theory that should be a bonus for film-makers interested in exploring characters engaged in sexually intense relationships, but with no censor-baiting sensationalism to deflect attention, it also means those film-makers have to up their game when it comes to presenting interesting characters and engaging stories. Sadly, Brit film Brilliantlove fails on both those counts. Revolving around Noon (Nancy Trotter Landry) and Manchester (Liam Browne), a solipsistic couple who spend sex-filled days in a kind of boho bubble in the latter's lock-up/art studio/home, the film charts the gradual disintegration of their blissful existence as Manchester's impulse to explicitly photograph their carnality starts attracting attention from outsiders. Attempting to get at something interesting about the parasitic nature of a no-boundaries relationship, debut director Ashley Horner has certainly been blessed with actors who aren't afraid to bare all for the camera.
Unfortunately, only Landry seems able to get under the skin of her character, and even then, any good work is sabotaged somewhat by some spurious plotting and an ill-judged, final-act attempt to satirise the pretentiousness of the art world.
MY AFTERNOONS WITH MARGUERITTE (15) ***
DIRECTED BY: JEAN BECKER
STARRING: GRARD DEPARDIEU, GISLE CASADESUS, SOPHIE GUILLEMIN
A SLIGHT slice of Gallic whimsy, this latest effort from veteran director Jean Becker almost feels like a companion piece to his lovely Conversations with my Gardener. Another gentle, character-driven two-hander, it stars Grard Depardieu as Germain, an oversized, undereducated handyman who strikes up a friendship with 94-year-old bookworm Margueritte (Gisle Casadesus) while feeding pigeons in the park of their small provincial village. Her love of literature inspires in him a desire to try reading more, an act of self-improvement that starts helping him process and deal with deep-rooted issues concerning his own mother, whose non-nurturing approach to childrearing has left him feeling unworthy of love. Though Becker undermines this theme slightly by giving Germain a beautiful young girlfriend who just wants to settle down and have a baby with him, Depardieu and Casadesus make a sweet enough pair to ensure this is pleasantly diverting, even if the addition of a circle of drinking buddies with subplots that go nowhere makes this is seem more like an hour-long TV drama padded out to feature length.