The pilgrims wanted to find or create liberty for themselves by creating a new home away from Britain’s crown. (Never mind the conceit that they showed in taking the aboriginals’ land.) As moviegoers we go to foreign film, in part to move our experiences beyond America’s conventional-come-insipid, though often entertaining titles. Some of those are free from the constraints of American films’ style and grammar.
We do so much for love, or out of our idea of it. No matter whether that’s in pursuit of a special man, a special woman, or a film that reminds us that something can be special.
Forget “Love, American Style,” (which was an American TV program from 1969-1974) think beyond the North American borders, and those mental borders and the biases, which you might harbor toward American-style film storytelling. Let’s be thankful that we can watch foreign films that give us different, even disparate vantage points on romance (and tumultuous questions of justice, which are often and easily as thorny as those of love).
How about Love, Argentinean style?: “The Secrets in Their Eyes” ["El secreto de sus ojos" in Spanish] tells a tangled tale of the pursuit of justice and a second chance for an unrequited romance. A retired court officer, Bejamin Esposito, writes a novel in order to banish the demons of his career… The “New York Times’” take on it might be the most potent: is it “both a detective story and a tale of unrequited love.” “The Secrets in Their Eyes” boasts smart humor, a mature, sensitive a compelling investigative yarn that clashes with the “Law & Order” North American procedural way of considering crimes.
- Who gets to see those often..?
- Often enough..?
Think about Love, Spanish style: “Cell 211″ ["Celda 211" in Spanish] tells of a tangled prison riot where good is mistaken for bad. It’s an uncommon prison riot film, with a love story. This story, critiqued here, is a perverse melding of a charming love story, which turns wistful, and a prison uprising spanning one day, and which might remind you of the Attica prison uprising in 1971. Juan Oliver, a do-gooder, becomes a criminal, while he hiding for his own safety among violent criminals. He must bide his time until his new world returns to a realm of sanity, and he can squeeze his wife again in a hug.
These two films provide strengths and twists in narrative and character development that rarely happen in North American movies.
Love, French style is…such a worn out idea – a cliché. We have “Mademoiselle Chambon.” You might ask “why bother; what new angle is there!?!” Even if we consider the crush on teacher trope… What if it were your dad? What if he did nothing but respond to your teachers steady, increasingly intense interest in your dad?
Love. Lust. Mid-life questions. Wanderlust. These are at the foundation of “Mademoiselle Chambon.” The trouble starts after she asks the dad, Jean, to talk to her class about his work, construction. She likes him – a lot. As sordid as their tryst might become, their story demands and expects viewers’ patience.
We are treated to these innovative, challenging stories so rarely in North America (those viewers who want better concede and consent to conventional, banal film experiences). Be thankful for countries and cultures that defy America’s standards and expectations for the routine, the typical, the retrod.