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.


rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

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">What’s the secret?</span> Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites are a brother and sister trying to solve the mystery of a demonic mirror in ‘Oculus.’

    Oculus (R)

    Mirrors have been as much of a fixture in horror movies as knives and cats that suddenly jump from the shadows. But they’re best in cameos, as in the ending of Dressed to Kill or the bathroom scene in The Shining. Oculus revolves entirely around an ornate mirror that is, what, a gateway to hell? A summoning force for evil spirits? A really ugly piece of furniture from a medieval Pottery Barn?

  •  
Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman square off in a scene from ‘The Raid 2.’

    The Raid 2 (R)

    Every time you think The Raid 2 can’t possibly top itself, writer-director Gareth Evans goes “Oh, yeah? Watch this.” Most of 2011’s The Raid: Redemption took place inside a tenement raided by a SWAT team to apprehend a mobster and his squad of killers holed up inside. Practically no one survived the movie — the violence was astonishing — but the contained setting and the idea of having events grow hairier for the good guys the higher they went in the building gave the tight 101-minute movie a sense of compressed, relentless action. Now comes The Raid 2 (known as The Raid 2: Bernadal in its native Indonesia), which is far more expansive and complicated, and runs almost 2 ½ hours. Miraculously, the new picture makes the old one feel like Evans was just warming up.

  •  
A sexual addict (Charlotte Gainsbourg) visits a therapist (Jamie Bell) with unorthodox methods to try to help get over her compulsion in ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2’

    NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. 2 (unrated)

    Nymphomaniac Vol. 2 (unrated)

    Things get really kinky in Nymphomaniac Vol. 2, the second chapter in director Lars von Trier’ epic-length saga about a woman who can’t get enough. If you saw Vol. 1, which ended with our perpetually horny heroine Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) losing all feeling in her sexual organs, you might be wondering, “How could this movie outdo the first one?” To quote the great Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

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