The French Film Festival begins at the Prytania Theatre tonight with Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, about singer Serge Gainsbourg. There is a variety of genres, and films include the 1951 classic An American in Paris (the only inclusion that's in English, all others are subtitled), the documentary L'Amour Fou, about fashion mogul Yves Saint Laurent, the Jean-Luc Goddard film Socialisme, and thrillers Love Crime and Rapt (trailer above). L'Amour Fou has its moments, particularly regarding Saint Laurent's period of wild indulgence in drugs and alcohol from the mid-1970s through the early 1990s, but it is mostly a more serious film that dwells on the reflections of his longtime life and business partner Pierre Berger (more here).
Rapt is based on the kidnapping of a French industrialist in 1978, but it is an original drama set more recently. And it was nominated for four Cesars, the French Oscars. Full review after the jump. Festival schedule here.
Rapt offers a hard economic lesson: Even kidnapping ransoms are subject to market valuation. While a family may consider a member priceless, other people have fixed ideas about what a life is worth.
Nominated for four Cesar awards, including best picture and actor, Rapt chronicles the kidnapping of Stanislas Graff (Yvan Attal), a multimillionaire who heads a massive corporation based in Paris. The criminals are in it purely for profit, and they want 50 million Euros for his return. They cut off one of his fingers to demonstrate how serious they are, and they humiliate and terrorize him for no extra charge. Negotiations get tense when Graff’s wife and the corporation can come up with only 20 million Euros. The kidnappers are ruthless and efficient, but in the end, a dead body is worth nothing to them.
The situation becomes more complicated as the police and government get involved. One lawyer suggests not negotiating, essentially risking paying the price of one human life to close down the industry. As the press swarms to the story, tabloids reveal Graff had multiple mistresses and lost a lot of money while gambling. This humiliates his wife and family and encourages the captors to believe anyone with alleged losses in the millions of Euros must have access to the grand sum they demand. The crass calculations also extend to the corporation, which would prefer the public and unions don’t see Graff as an overpaid playboy who barely impacted operations while collecting extravagant fees.
Graff’s wife Francoise (Anne Consigny) remains committed to preserving her family, ostensibly at any cost, but she becomes increasingly aware that she barely knew her husband.
The French Film Festival is sponsored by the New Orleans Film Society and French Consul General. Tickets $9 general admission, $7 New Orleans Film Society members.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 13
noon Thursday, July 14