Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Friends from France (2013) New York Jewish Film Festival 2014

Opening night film of the New York Jewish Film Festival has me scratching my head. What is this film about, really?

The plot of the film has two cousins, pretending to be an engaged couple traveling from France to Odessa in the old Soviet Union.  They are there to bring material to various refusniks who want to leave the country for Israel. As the pair sneaks about delivering their goods they meet various people and circle closer to each other.

Feeling like an ambivalent spy film with some awkward humor mixed in this film doesn't seem to know what it's about. For much of the film I was wondering where this tale of the cousins was going.  Once the film shifted toward romance as the cousins try to avoid crashing together the film seemed to stumble. Is that what the film really about doomed romance? Weird gyrations in the plot seem to be there simply to have the film be about more than just clueless kids giving things to the refuseniks. Just before the film shifted forward ten years I just threw up my hands and went with it. Characters started to do strange things that make no sense (why is one character so damn angry?) Clearly the film wanted to to be sensational for no really good reason and it had to move toward an ending that feels completely contrived.

It's not a bad film, it's just nothing special, though perhaps a tad sleazy.

What is special are the performances, in particular Soko, a singer who I first saw in Augustine which played Rendezvous With French Cinema last spring. A stunning young woman, I'm guessing that she'll be snapped up by Hollywood very shortly and winning an Oscar or two not long after`that.

Should you see Friends From France? Yea, maybe, but I wouldn't go out of my way.

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