The Beautiful Person

2008 [FRENCH]

Comedy / Drama

IMDb Rating 6.6 10 7133

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May 06, 2022 at 05:28 PM


Léa Seydoux as Junie
Louis Garrel as Nemours
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860.23 MB
fre 2.0
25 fps
1 hr 33 min
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1.73 GB
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1 hr 33 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Chris Knipp 8 / 10

Classy Paris lycée as royal court; teenage love as tragic drama

For a TV film, Christophe Honoré's 'La Belle personne' is elegant and allusive. It's a rethinking of Madame de Lafayette's' 17th-century classic 'La Princesse de Clèves' for Paris lycée classroom and courtyard--which may make you think of the way de Laclos' 'Dangerous Liaisons' was adapted to an American high school in Roger Kumble's 1999 'Cruel Intentions.' Honoré makes use of the fact that the good looks of youth confer a kind of nobility, high school cliques resemble court life, and teenage machinations aren't far from royal plots. The "beautiful person" (a phrase from the book) is any youth from a good family in a fashionable school. The director features Louis Garrel, himself clearly a "beautiful person," for a fourth time. The way he slips in appearances by Clotilde Hesme and Chiara Mastroianni and a tragic main role for Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, all from the director's musical film 'Love Songs,' with one song included, makes you feel like the director is playing off his own company of players. As the self-centered seducer Nemours, Garrel, himself part of a French cinematic dynasty (his father and grandfather are both film icons), gets movie royalty for his love interest. Léa Seydoux, who plays the central female, lycée newcomer Junie, is a direct descendant of scions of the two great houses of French cinema, Gaumont and Pathé. Garrel is dreamier than Truffaut's alter ego Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud). More than ever he seems Honoré's muse, his classic young Parisian boulevardier, flaneur, seducer. It's s all beginning to seem at bit inbred (but what genes!). On top of that former 'Cahiers du Cinéma' writer Honoré, not surprisingly, as before, slips in illusions to the Nouvelle Vague, especially Godard.

If this sounds interesting, even classic, but emotionally a bit uninvolving, that's pretty much true. There's some titillation (but not much sex), long kisses, and a chance to look up close at beautiful boy and girl faces. For complication, as before with Honoré, a gay affair is woven in as if it were the most natural thing in the world (though this time there is also a great effort to hide it). But while the director's 'Dans Paris' lurched back and forth between hilarity (embodied in Louis Garrel) and deep melancholy (hovering over Romain Duris) and in 'Love Songs' a sudden death clouded everyone else's life, this time the teenage passions, ostensibly mortal, feel more superficial, and Nemours, who is involved with a woman teacher and a girl student at the film's start, barely shows a flicker of concern about his multiple affairs and broken hearts apart from the worry that they might get too messy. So the film may be a pleasure to look at; it may even provide the vicarious pleasure of imagining life at a snooty Paris high school; but the sweetness and sublime gloom of 'Love Songs' and 'Dans Paris' are now more fleeting and peripheral, replaced by machinations it's somewhat difficult to keep track of.

When Junie arrives at mid-term, her life disrupted due to the death of her mother, all eyes turn toward her sultry pout. One boy snaps photos of her. Nemours, not so much older than his charges, ostensibly teaches them Italian--not very seriously, it seems. This school lacks the ghetto intensity shown in Cantet's 'The Class' or the elite-school rigor of Verheyde's 'Stella.' Nemours purveys Italian by setting up a field trip to Italy (which falls through), having pop song lyrics read and translated, and allowing a student to play a record of Callas singing Lucia, causing him and Junie to fall for each other when Junie weeps and rushes out, leaving behind her photo-portrait for Nemours to grab and stash away.

Then comes the misplaced love-note, which gets very complicated, and leads to a revelation at a Métro stop about boys loving boys. Otto feels betrayed, though on the basis of another boy's mistaken observation. Why does Junie give him a children's book called 'Otto'? Why does he wear a big sheepskin coat all the time, while the other kids wear lighter, hipper outfits, and Nemours' ensembles are like Hedi Slimane, only better? There are bits of guys playing basketball, scenes in a local café with a tough, motherly patronne; and the flashbacks have an appealingly blurry Nouvelle Vague look. We are talking style over substance here, but not exclusively. As in 'Dangerous Liaisons,' those who suffer elegantly stil suffer. And Honoré's relatively weak grasp on what happens in the classroom can't detract from his ability to convey with some vitality the snippy-chic atmosphere in the hallways, and the quick devastation of a teen romance gone wrong (the original 'Princesse de Clèves,' by the way, was fifteen).

Thanks largely Alex Beaupain's songs, Honoré's 'Chansons d'amour' captured a bittersweet melancholy that perfectly fit the gray winter season in the Bastille quarter of Paris where it was set. This time the director has created a different atmosphere, lighter and noisier--but emotionally less engaging. But he has by no means lost touch with his Parisian milieu or his cast of attractive people. This is still a film that will be worth seeing again. Some of it flits by too fast to take in the first time.

Working on the adaptation with Gilles Taurand (who wrote Téchiné's excellent 'Strayed'), Honoré has shown a light touch and is working in a consistent vein that is ever more Parisian and urbane, ever more "Dans Paris." Except for "Comme la pluie" sung by Otto (Leprince-Riinguet), this film has no songs by Honoré's 'Love Songs' collaborator, Alex Beaupain. Instead it is peppered with musical numbers and the songs of Nick Drake. Not part of the Rendez-Vous, though it might have been, 'La Belle personne' opened theatrically at BAMcinématek March 6 as kind of followup of a 2007 series there called "Generation Garrel," which provided a sneak preview of 'Dans Paris.' 'La Belle personne' has been bought for US distribution by IFC Films. It played in the London and San Sebastian film festivals.

Reviewed by LeoDRK 3 / 10

The script is unconnected

First half hour of this films wanders among characters' stories and relationships. They are too many of them to keeping track of. And the story never starts. What is going on? First Junie's action occurs after 18 minutes. She kisses Otto. And then everything turns gray, undefined. Nemours falls in love. She realizes that but doesn't react clearly.

Other stories appear in the middle. But we don't have idea what's the point in all this. When the love triangle is about to close, the writer throws one his character into the void. The only interesting and visible conflict in the movie dies before seeing the light. And we are back to an ambiguous situation where the characters don't know what they want. And in turn don't do anything concrete. The end is more of the same.

The main character doesn't care too much about anything. And then we don't care too much about the movie. There is almost no conflict during the film, and when it appears it disappears immediately.

Reviewed by sandover 8 / 10

From the high-brow court to the high-school courtyard

After teaching us the art of levity with his splendid "Les Chansons d' Amour", Cristophe Honore tackles a loose adaptation of the Princess Des Cleves in a modern day Parisian high-school. Junie, a new comer in mid-term, joins her cousin's class, and soon afterwards gets entangled in the game of love. Otto, a boy that I would term the common denominator of serious lovemaking and affection in the film, of stably pursuing his affection towards Junie, is in a way our guarantor in the film of common sense and, at least for me, someone to identify with. His friends term him simpleton when he admits his embarrassment on how to get closer to Junie. But that happens admirably quickly and unaffectedly from both parts, even though we get to understand that Junie has recently lost her mother, that is why she came to school at this time of the year and why she gives way to moods of grave beauty.

We are then introduced to the third main character, the one who is given ample presentation in a way, Nemours, a somewhat winning womanizer of both his fellow teachers and students, teacher of Italian.

In one of his classes, and under the spell of Callas' Lucia di Lammermoor, Junie gets, for reasons no one probes, overwhelmed with emotion - this is the decisive moment, when Nemours and Junie pierce each other with glances signifying love.

Next step, a miscast letter, that everyone thinks is Nemours' and that is being addressed to Junie, finally gets into Junie's hands - yet it is, as we come to learn, her cousin's, addressed to a boy, whence the pressure to retrieve it, though with admirable clarity and absurdity Junie surmises that it is a letter really written to her by Nemours, even though he plainly denies it. Clarity and absurdity go here together because, even though it was not addressed to her, it was she that was actually the addressee, it was meant for her.

And as everything that is written means tragedy, it soon arrives. Junie, even if having claimed the letter, does not give in to Nemours' lovemaking, but instead gives herself to Otto, after having tenderly and mischievously given him just before a children's book with the title Otto, and half-said to him that there is another person involved. That is really finely crafted by C.Honore in a visual geometry of passion. Eventually, Otto learns that something is going on between Junie and Nemours and calmly tries to confront it with Junie, yet, there is misunderstanding involved: the person who witnessed them, witnessed wrongly that the two kissed, from the perspective he saw them. That is why Junie rebuts Otto's claim; that way, and as it should be, we loose the common denominator in love's proceedings, and love becomes fatal. Otto does not believe her, and in doing so, does not love her any more. He takes it for a blatant lie and soon afterwards after literally singing away his despair, he commits suicide.

From that point on, Junie decides not to give herself to Nemours on grounds that their love will last for some time then expire, ranging it to the hordes of commonality, thing impossible, since Otto, by his suicide, raised the standard to such a degree, namely and actually loving her all his life, that anything less will be degrading. So, after this explanation, she leaves it all behind.

Up until somewhere in the middle of the movie I was still wondering to what kind of explosion C.Honore's boiling sourdine will give in, but I felt in a way that the film regressed to some kind of mannerism, in using devices of the two films that came before it, namely the singing in exactly the same tone, and using an actor/singer of the "Chansons d' Amour", right before Otto's suicide, and then, the cut editing in a somber interior reminiscing the technique involved in "Dans Paris", when Junie and Nemours finally meet, the two of them, alone, inside. It may seem trifle, yet I took it as regressive, since C.Honore set himself the standard so high!That said given the fact that this was made for TV, it is of superlative quality as any film we come to expect from French film-makers. Also the fact of watching the same team of actors playing in two films in a row, gives one a rare warm feeling and the wish that they would go on for some more!Even the fleeting presence of Chiara Mastroianni!

The subplot is a pleasure, too: the way the two young boys' love is presented in a mocking documentary fashion; and the way in their case the third party reacts, recurring to violence, not contending himself, as happens in the other triangle, to the violence of words.

The photography is very good: a gripping, nuanced grayness allover finely portraying the incidents, and at one point, the beautiful faces of the adolescents, not exactly like the rococo fresco coming in the middle of the sequence, but the way a grave, beautiful Giotto stares us. The denouement may not be as sublime as the "beautiful faces" are, but maybe this is the point.

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