Contes de Juillet (July Tales)
Guillaume Brac serves up a small surprise with this joyful, funny short story diptych set in and around Paris. These are two simple, luminous tales with a slight edge, and both films are imbued with effective naturalistic performances from a predominantly young cast. It’s about flirting mainly, with unwanted male advances acting as the usual catalyst. It could be easily and adequately entitled ****boys: A Play in Two Acts.
In the first part, two work colleagues, Milena (Milena Csergo) and Lucie (Lucie Grunstein), go Sunday swimming in a public pool. The friendship is in its infancy. A lifeguard called Jean (Jean Joude) pursues the duo, disrupting the pair’s burgeoning rapport. Jean’s outrageous flirtations and inconceivable set of alleged skills is able to charm one of the women, while the other heads off frustrated, only to find attraction in a handsome fencer. In the second part, a young Norwegian student, Hanne (Hanne Mathisen Haga), is about to return to her homeland. Hanne’s last day is tough: three men – with different degrees of intent – contrive to bring chaos and complication to her Parisian farewell. She must try to avoid the creeps while not upsetting her friend Salomé (Salomé Diénis Meulien), who has taken a liking to one of the men. Among the dramatic events are a bloodied nose and an erotic dance-off. She has to only make it through the night.
The first is a tender tale – not without moments of potential threat – that ends with satisfactory warmth. The second is farcical and momentarily hilarious, but ends on a note of inexplicable tragedy. Brac’s move in the latter film is brave and doesn’t perhaps come off. But overall these are two excellently observed, purely enjoyable set pieces, accompanied with a truthful, subtly feminist lens. Importantly, one character finally finds an accurate definition for an MBA student – “ah, a bourgeois capitalist!”.
Contes de Juillet (July Tales) does not have a UK release date yet.