Saturday, 11 March 2017

FFF Film Review: "Planetarium" (2016).

"We will never know what is on the point of changing."
This is at the heart of Planetarium. This French-Belgian drama film directed by Rebecca Zlotowski. The film follows the journey of sisters who are believed to possess the supernatural ability to connect with ghosts. They cross paths with a visionary French producer while performing in Paris.

After the success of her second feature Grand Central in 2013, in May 2015, it was announced that Rebecca Zlotowski would be directing from a screenplay by her and Robin Campillo (They Came Back (2004)), with Frederic Jouve (who also produced Zlotowski's Grand Central) and his Les Films Velvet banner producing and financing. The film is loosely based on the lives and works of the Fox sisters and other formative figures in the field of Spiritualism. It was also announced that Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp had been cast in the film as the Barlow sisters, who specialise in seances. Principal photography for the film began late September 2015, and was shot throughout France, especially Paris. The film was the first film to be entirely shot on the Alexa 65. The filmmakers utilised the digital format to reanimate the gauzy quality of the weathered and lucid celluloid quality found in the 1930s.

 The film stars Natalie Portman. Lily-Rose Depp, Louis Garrel and Emmanuel Salinger. The cast gave fine performances that elevated and carried the film, especially the two female leads. Both Portman and Depp gave surprisingly fine performances and their French was immaculate. This shouldn't have been a surprise considering that Depp is the daughter of Vanessa Paradis, the famous French actress and singer. As for Portman, it shouldn't be a surprise since Portman is a Harvard graduate and is married to French ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied. Whom Portman met during the filming of Black Swan in 2009. Plus, she is undeniably one of the best actresses of her generation, there is a role she can't take on at this point and she is, by definition, a chameleon. However, her performance in the film is not as powerful or Oscar-worthy as her performance in Jackie.

Planetarium is a film that is both underwritten and over-performed. Many of the scenes seem to have been whittled down to the nub, which at times turns it into a succession of wordless gestures and poses. Given the generally risible dialogue, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, at time, the film feels more unimaginative than compelling, and is an oddly plotted and frantically paced pastiche. In addition, even though it features some extravagant and entertaining moments, the film feels more like a European TV drama than an actual cinematic period drama. In the end, it is a spiritual drama that tries to be drama, comedy, romance and fantasy all in one bag, mixed together to become a not-so successful result. A film that sometimes appears more silly, muddled and confusing as though a hex has been placed on it.

Simon says Planetarium receives:

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