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They say that French is the language of love, so it's not surprising that there are a lot of French romantic films. Many are in the comedy genre, although these are generally very different from the more usual Hollywood Rom-Coms. Others are much more serious, dealing with the sometimes harsh realities of life.
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  • Amour

    Amour

  • L'Hermine

    L'Hermine

  • 20 ans d'écart

    20 ans d'écart

  • L'Arnacoeur (Heartbreaker)

    L'Arnacoeur (Heartbreaker)

  • Gemma Bovery

    Gemma Bovery

  • Grand Central

    Grand Central

  • Mon Roi

    Mon Roi

  • Souvenir

    Souvenir

  • Pause

    Pause

  • La Belle Époque

    La Belle Époque

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

  • 3 Coeurs

    3 Coeurs

  • Le Mépris

    Le Mépris

  • Mademoiselle Chambon

    Mademoiselle Chambon

  • Tu mérites un amour

    Tu mérites un amour

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Le Mépris
Le Mépris
With my recent BFI subscription I decided to explore some of the older classics of French cinema. Le Mépris is one such film which, in its remastered form, visually belies its age. But, that said, the acting is very much of the period.

Of course, directed by Jean-Luc Godard and with Brigitte Bardot as the lead female actor it was always going to attract attention. I found it a bit difficult at times but critical reviews mark it as one of Godard's best films and similarly for Bardot.

Bardot plays Camille, the wife of a script writer Paul. The opening scene is devoted to displaying Bardot's unquestionable sexuality, a scene that seems unnecessary and one that Godard was forced to include to satisfy the American market. From that point on Bardot reveals very little although offers plenty of teases!

We cut to a film set where we are introduced to the film producer Jeremy Prokosch, a brash American who speaks no French. He is assisted by the delightful Francesca, an Italian who translates for him. We also meet the Austrian film maker Fritz Lang (played by himself) who speaks German, French and English although seems arbitrarily to jump between them.

Prokosch has asked Paul to rewrite the script for the film, the tale of Ulysses and Penelope. Although very reluctant he eventually agrees, thinking it will pay for his and Camille's flat. But while at the start of the film Camille and Paul seem very much in love, everything changes after Paul allows Prokosch to take Camille to his villa in his two-seater Alfa, while Paul takes a taxi. Prokosch clearly has desires on Camille.

From this point on Camille seems to have contempt (le mépris) for Paul and their relationship rapidly deteriorates. This mirrors the relationship between Ulysses and Penelope, so we have a film within a film, the Greek saga on the film set being reenacted between Paul and Camille.

There is a superb user review on the IMdB site that is probably well worth reading before you watch the film. It doesn't give away too much in the way of spoilers but it does reveal the depth of this film, something that can be easily missed on a first viewing.
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