CAFÉ DE FLORE (unrated)

Café de Flore (unrated)


Movie Info

Rating: * * * 1/2

Cast: Vanessa Paradis, Kevin Parent, Hélène Florent, Evelyne Brochu, Marin Gerrier.

Writer-director: Jean-Marc Vallée.

Producers: Pierre Even, Marie-Claude Poulin.

An Adopt Films release. Running time: 120 minutes. Vulgar language, sexual situations, nudity, adult themes. In French with English subtitles. In Miami-Dade only: Coral Gables Art Cinema.

In 2011 Montreal, the DJ Antoine (Kevin Parent) is about to turn 40. He is successful, healthy, has two beautiful daughters and is in a loving relationship with Rose (Evelyne Brochu), who he is preparing to marry. In 1969 Paris, Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis) is raising her son Laurent (Marin Gerrier), who was born with Down syndrome. She has read that the boy’s life expectancy is 25, but she is determined he will live to be an old man, and she devotes her life to him.

Linking the two storylines in Café de Flore is the eponymous song. In Paris, Laurent listens to a jazzy piano version. In Quebec, Antoine prefers a groovy ambient cover. Much as he did in 2005’s C.R.A.Z.Y., writer-director Jean-Marc Vallée uses pop music liberally, sometimes to sublime effect, other times more subtly (Antoine’s bedside alarm clock uses the clanging bells that opens Pink Floyd’s Time). Sigur Rós plays when Antoine meets Rose, and the chorus swells at the precise moment they fall in instant love with each other.

Vallée uses film the way a DJ uses music: To make you see and feel the world exactly as he does. Café de Flore is told in non-chronological order, with flashbacks within flashbacks and narratives constantly jumping back and forth across decades. But there isn’t a single moment in the movie when you’re lost or confused. This is a picture that moves the heart more than it engages the brain. Recurring images, such as a shot of Antoine’s ex-wife (Hélène Florent) driving her car in an agitated state or glimpses of a teenaged Antoine hanging around with his girlfriend and listening to The Cure, don’t mean anything at first. Eventually, though, everything coalesces into an enormous wallop One of the great pleasures of the movie is seeing how the entire lives and histories of these characters gradually come together bit by breathtaking bit..

In its final 20 minutes, Café de Flore takes a huge, quasi-spiritual turn, reminiscent of what Vallée did in C.R.A.Z.Y. It didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work this time either, requiring too large of a leap of faith from the viewer. But you can completely ignore the twist (it springs not from the director, but from the minds of one of the characters) and still walk away loving this ambitious, poignant movie. I’ve purposely avoided saying what Café de Flore is really about, because the central premise is resonant and touching but knowing too much would rob the reveal of its power. Vallée continues to prove he’s a talent to watch, though. I can’t think of another filmmaker who makes such technically complex, skilled pictures about such intimate matters. This is a gorgeous, flashy, widescreen epic, like Boogie Nights or Casino, about the most essential things in life: Family, friends and love — most of all, though, love.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Magic in the Moonlight’:</span> Colin Firth is a stage magician trying to disprove the abilities of an acclaimed psychic (Emma Stone).

    Magic in the Moonlight (PG-13)

    The inherent problem in cranking out a movie (sometimes two!) every year, as Woody Allen has been doing for the last 34 years, is that some of them are inevitably going to be dogs. Does someone have a gun to the filmmaker’s head that forces him to proceed with half-baked, joyless comedies such as Magic in the Moonlight instead of tossing bad ideas out and starting fresh? This is, at best, a 20-minute TV episode extended to feature length, and the stretch marks show. Boy, do they show. That’s practically all you can see, really.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Guardians of the Galaxy’:</span> Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Chris Pratt form an unlikely team of space-jockey superheroes.

    Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13)

    Watching the zippy, ebullient Guardians of the Galaxy, you wonder “Why can’t all comic-book movies be this much fun?”

Dad (Ethan Hawke, right) plays around with his son (Ellar Coltrane) in a scene from “Boyhood.”

    Boyhood (R)

    Contrary to most dramas, which tend to dwell on traumatic or seismic events, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood argues that life is a compilation of small, everyday moments, an accumulation of the feelings and thoughts and emotions we start to gather from the time we are children. Shot over the span of 12 years, with the cast getting together for a few days annually to shoot some scenes, the movie charts the growth of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the ages of 5 to 18. Mason has an older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter) and he has two loving parents, Mom (Patricia Arquette) and Dad (Ethan Hawke), who are divorced and live apart. Their relationship can be contentious at times, but they both care deeply for their kids.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category