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Friday, February 27, 2015

IN THE COURTYARD (DANS LA COUR)


By D.E.Levine

A Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2015 Selection

French national treasure Catherine Deneuve stars as Mathilde, a retired woman who lives at the top of a rundown Parisian building.  Against all odds she interviews, likes and hires a solitary and rather isolated drunkard, Antoine (Gustave Kervern), as concierge of the building.  Antoine needs the job to survive, but he's not especially interested in it or even a good concierge.

Mathilde's husband Serge (Feodor Atkine) thinks she may be slightly crazy and Kervern's character is definitely antisocial.  Antoine has been sent on the interview by a job center and Serge he's hopeless, very strange and a bad liar but Mathilde thinks he's perfect for the job.  Mathilde feels if Antoine is a bad liar it's because he doesn't lie very often.

Given the job, Antoine moves into a tiny studio at the entrance of the building.  As he meets the eclectic group of tenants he changes, becoming more social, more accommodating and even a decent janitor.  Of course, Antoine has his own way of doing things.  Deciding to plant trees and flowers in the courtyard, he steals them from a public park.But, it seems that every day he is placed in situations that are rather absurd and comical.

The most unlikely occurrence is the bonding between Mathilde and Antoine, who become friends and conspirators in building improvements.  It's an unlikely friendship and yet totally believable due to the actors.

When Mathilde discovers a large crack in the wall of her apartment, she becomes convinced that the entire building is going to collapse.  Becoming an activist to save the building and the neighborhood actually increases her eccentricities and "craziness".

Actually, all the characters are eccentric and humorous but they're definitely not cookie cutter roles. Although in many cases the story is similar to other French indie films the story twists and acting by established stars carry this film to a level above most.