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La Petite Lili (2003)

Cast: Nicole Garcia, Nicole Garcia, Bernard Giraudeau, more...
Director: Claude Miller, Claude Miller
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Studio: First Run Features
Genre: Drama, Foreign, France
Running Time: 100 min.
Languages: French
Subtitles: English
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Synopsis
Anton Chekhov's The Seagull receives an updated adaptation in this drama from veteran French filmmaker Claude Miller. Mado (Nicole Garcia) is a successful actress who is spending the summer at her country estate with her boyfriend, Brice (Bernard Giraudeau), a noted filmmaker who directed her latest picture. Also staying with Mado is her son, Julien (Robinson Stévenin), a budding experimental filmmaker with a combustible personality who is infatuated with Lili (Ludivine Sagnier), a beautiful young woman whose family lives nearby. Lili is attentive but cool around Julien, who doesn't pay much heed to the attentions of Jeanne-Marie (Julie Depardieu), the daughter of Mado's caretaker (Marc Betton) who has long held a torch for him. When Julien screens his latest film for Mado and her guests, it leads to a bitter argument between the two as her criticism of her son's work devolves into a series of personal attacks on one another. As Julien threatens to sever ties with his mother, Lili courts the attentions of Brice, while Jeanne-Marie defends Julien's work with little reaction from him. La Petite Lili received its world premiere at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Two Maps by FGaipa November 4, 2007 - 1:48 PM PST
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1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
No character isnt tinged with cliché. Maybe we dont like them, maybe we do like this one or that, but so what? Even the film within a film within, ultimately, a film-in-the-making is clichéd. Or maybe such Chinese boxes have become their own genre. But if youre lucky enough to own the disk, or to hang onto a rental long enough, watch it once just for the edits, the cuts. Early on, in and around the country house, theyre so frequent and abrupt they should be dizzying, but they arent. Theyre always natural, true either psychologically or mechanically. The camera skips indoors and out almost, though maybe not quite, to the point where you could sketch the layout. An uncertain eye becomes a firm hand. The target of a gaze suddenly becomes the new point of view. Or someone walks into the inanimate focus of a gaze, so cut to somewhere unexpected, this new persons gaze. Point of view shifts so often, so seamlessly, it seems almost to justify me in an argument I not sure I didnt lose once about the viability of film against prose in conveying emotional detail. How difficult is it to shift point of view half a dozen times on a page or even six without degrading the game?

When the whole structure threatens to replay itself toward the finish, it doesnt quite because Juliens chosen a perhaps not very French but not so unlike recent Rohmer sound-stage version of the country house. The cuts still dance, but its a broken, postmodern dance. The actors, all I think but Julien whos out to direct and Simon, who stumbles about hilariously humbled by the shadow of too calm, too mirror-image Michel Piccoli playing him, move like too-smooth marionettes.

In the end, the film is about the contrast between the opening mise en scène and the closing. Its a glorious suspense film, with no resolution to the question it asks. Can Julien pull it off?

I cant recall a more completely realized Miller film.

Chekhov Updated and Upended (just a bit) by talltale January 1, 2006 - 5:48 PM PST
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1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Claude Miller is, I think, one of the more under-rated writer/directors (certainly among French w/d's). His work is unfailingly intelligent, interesting and different. As was Jules Dassin, Miller seems comfortable in a variety of genres (often the road to second-class citizenry in the film world)--from the stark and sad ("Class Trip") to a Ruth Rendell mystery ("Alias Betty"), a character study/coming-of-age tale ("L'Effrontee") to this new one, LA PETITE LILI, a delightful, updated version of Chekhov's "The Seagull."

It surprises me how well the play moves into modern day, replacing the stage (and its writers & actors) with the world of film. The cast includes a number of terrific French performers such as Nicole Garcia ("Alias Betty," "The Last Day"), Bernard Giraudeau ("A Matter of Taste," "Ridicule") and the great Jean-Pierre Marielle (well over 100 film and TV appearances, including "Tous les Matins du Monde") plus youngsters like Robinson Stevenin and Ludivine Sagnier.

The film follows the play in surprisingly close fashion--up to a point--and gives even the subsidiary characters their due (actors like Julie Depardieu offer rich, subtle performances). Then it jumps off into another level, circumvents the sadness and waste in Chekhov's people, and offers its own lightweight but charming version art & life in a close-knit film community. The location alone--a gorgeous waterside villa--makes this movie is a special treat. For sophisticated audiences, this is one of the more enjoyable (and certainly more under-seen) movies of the past few years. For Chekhov lovers (whatever they may think of the ending), it's a must.




GreenCine Member Rating
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(Average 6.83)
6 Votes
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Cannes Film Festival & More - 2003
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Official Selection, Certain Regards... and more. Here is a bit more information on the films screened at the Cannes. I have attempted to list all the films that were considered for an award as well as any special screenings.
kraigpdx

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