French Cinema

Sisterhood with a Capital “S”: ‘The Triplets of Belleville’

The Triplets of Belleville

Sisterhood is powerful, magical, and resilient: that’s the sororal message in the celebrated 2003 animated film… Character distinction between the sisters as individuals is not a major focus for writer/director Sylvain Chomet, although each Triplet has different functions/feelings at specific times. The bond of the sisters as a more monolithic force is depicted instead: Chomet presents the unity of sisterhood. … The agency of older women, including the eponymous trio, is vital to ‘The Triplets of Belleville.’

Evolution in Marjane Satrapi’s ‘Persepolis’ and ‘Chicken With Plums’


In a similar way to Marji (‘Persepolis’), Nasser (‘Chicken with Plums’) must be sent far away to have his journey of becoming. There is something in him — talent — that requires he must go beyond his home. But whereas in Marji’s case she must go away to protect herself, Nasser must go away so he can grow, get bigger and fuller and richer.

The Sacred Heart of ‘Amélie’


Whether or not it was the intent of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Amélie can be seen as the female representation of a Christ figure in a modern tragedy. … Amélie’s love, like that of Christ, is selfless and knows no boundaries. … Amélie is altruistic and doesn’t hesitate to help other people.

Scavenging for Food and Art: Agnès Varda’s ‘The Gleaners and I’

Varga and her digital camera

The tools Varda employs are modest and made for the road. The handheld digital video camera she uses allows for both freedom and intimacy. She puts herself in front of the camera, filming, for example, her aged hands and thinning hair in candid close-up. Can you imagine a Hollywood director doing so? Varda rejects vanity and embraces vulnerability.

Vintage Viewing: Germaine Dulac, Surrealist Theorist

Germaine Dulac: auteur for sure

While America was building its clout as the commercial center of the global film industry, it was France that became the center of film theory, driving experimentation. A key figure in that development was Germaine Dulac.

Add It To Your Netflix Queue: ‘The Returned’


‘The Returned’ is not explicitly about male violence against women, but this is an unmistakable through-line for those who are watching for it. Violence against women is, perhaps, more normalized in our culture than death itself; yet in truth it is as damnably unnatural as the dead returning.

Catherine Breillat’s Transfigurative Female Gaze


The grotesque is enmeshed with sexual pleasure and violent death–all images and storylines that patriarchal cultures have been weaving together for centuries. A woman’s sexual desire and her actions stemming from those desires are often presented as horrifying and punishable: “unwatchable.” Much of what Breillat shows supports the reality that female sexual desire is real, and the societies in which we must function are at best, uncomfortable with that desire, and at worst, violently hostile.

‘Oppressed Majority’ (‘Majorité Opprimée’)

Please take just 11 minutes out of your day to check out Eléonore Pourriat’s powerful short, ‘Oppressed Majority’ (‘Majorité Opprimée’). An inspired gender role reversal tale, it depicts the sexism, abuse and sexual violence women experience on a daily basis.

‘Inside’: French Pregnant Body Horror At Its Finest

Guest post written by Deirdre Crimmins for our theme week on Infertility, Miscarriage, and Infant Loss. Content note: Discussion of violence directed at women and violent images ahead. Spoiler alert. Horror films have a unique way of showcasing exactly what we fear, but they often do so in a subtle way. While is it goes without saying […]

Foreign Film Week: Growing Up Queer: ‘Water Lilies’ (2007) and ‘Tomboy’ (2011)

Written by Max Thornton, this review previously appeared at Bitch Flicks on June 26, 2012. Céline Sciamma’s films are ever so French. Light on dialogue, they tend to rely on lingering shots of longing glances and exquisite mise-en-scène to reveal character; loosely plotted, they leave the impression less of a story than of a series […]

Foreign Film Week: A Failed Attempt at Feminism Impedes ‘Rust and Bone’

Guest post written by Candice Frederick, originally published at Reel Talk. Cross-posted with permission. At its core, there’s something very interesting about the small yet much buzzed about French film, De rouille et d’os, which is translated in English as Rust and Bone. Its off kilter premise, which follows the extraordinary love story of an […]

Foreign Film Week: Growing Up with ‘Les Demoiselles de Rochefort’

Les demoiselles de Rochefort (1967) Guest post written by Lou Flandrin. This masterpiece by Jacques Demy is definitely the most important movie of my childhood. Part of it is probably due to the hours I spent listening to the cheerful singing while going away on vacation with my family. Singing in the car is the […]