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ANTOINETTE IN THE CÉVENNES gets 5/10 Mountain of love


Directed by Caroline Vignal

Starring Laure Calamy, Benjamin Lavernhe, Olivia Côte

5/10

This is not a film with a grand sweeping message to hit home, but instead a carefree and somewhat episodic tale of a woman trying to encroach on the holiday of her married lover’s family. The mood of the film is appropriate, matching the vague emptiness of its main character and her own shallow exploits.

Primary school teacher Antoinette (Laure Calamy) is having an affair with the father of one of her students. She’s aggravated when he informs her that their trip has been shelved, so that he can go on a hiking trip with his family. However, she makes it her mission to join them anyway, booking herself for the trek, and even has herself a pack-carrying donkey to lead her along the way.

Any musings on infidelity are not present, despite the story setting it up so much. It feels like it’s all there just to set up Antoinette’s character because that’s all the film is focused around: her quest for love and romance – other families be damned.

It’s hard to get comfortable with Antoinette as a leading character, when she seems like a wholly self-absorbed character without much to redeem her or to make her seem worthy of this character study in romance. And it doesn’t seem like the film knows that she’s like this, as it instead treats her with too much whimsy.

The only real relationship that grows at all is the one between Antoinette and the donkey, who become closer together as they work out how each of this species can work together, with Antoinette being put through physically rigorous challenges. She’s very much someone who changes only from external forces, with the people she meets and the places she visits coming into conflict with what she had in plan.

She’s also hard to watch sometimes with how shrill Calamy makes her, with the “comedy” moments of her frustration little more than moments of hysterical over-acting. The only real character development for the title character is that she becomes less of a bad person, which isn’t satisfying (especially as the film thinks differently of her). But ultimately she’s still self-serving, not interested in what she can give to others, but doesn’t seem to mind risking sabotage in other people’s lives for her own gain.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

Antoinette In The Cévennes plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, December 21 to Thursday, December 24 and Saturday, December 26 to Sunday, December 27 at 8pm. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au

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