My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.

This week focuses on three films by one of my favorite French filmmakers, Bertrand Tavernier.



Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I love Bertrand Tavernier as much for his intense love of cinema as the films he directed. Criterion Channel recently programmed several of his movies and I’m excited to catch up on the ones I haven’t seen.

SPOILED CHILDREN is a subtle, possibly semi-autobiographical drama about a filmmaker at a crossroads in his personal and professional life. I like that it doesn’t lean too heavily on his work, instead exploring how he handles his marriage, his affair, and the ways those events connect to his creativity. In that way, Tavernier’s film feels accurate and at times poignant.

It doesn’t, however, have much of an impact. Certainly, not all films need to have dramatic weight but this one feels like it is lacking the kind of subtle yet powerful touches of A WEEK’S VACATION and L.627. Still, it’s a delight to watch Michel Piccoli, truly one of the best actors of his generation.

Watched on Criterion Channel.



Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Martin Scorsese was right when he said Tavernier had a unique cinematic voice like none other. I can’t think of any other filmmaker who works like him. Sometimes that leads to brilliant movies and other times it produces flawed but fascinating pictures.

LET JOY REIGN SUPREME is one of the latter. At times, it feels like a serious, historical drama. In almost the same moment, it can switch gears into a farce. This is common for Tavernier, who often balances tragedy and absurdity simultaneously in his work. And then there’s the erotic element of this piece: at times it is truly sensual and I longed for it to get lost in those moments but it never does. The unevenness of the work may appeal to some but it did not work for me.

What did work are the performances. Noiret is wonderful as always but Jean-Pierre Marielle steals the show. His work is inspired, unpredictable. He lights up the screen with a raw, masculine energy that makes us want to charge into hopeless battle with him. Marielle is an actor I haven’t paid much attention to in my study of French cinema. I will now.

Watched on Criterion Channel.



Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This is the Tavernier I like best: slow, melancholic, making observations about day-to-day life, giving us a straight-forward tonally steady approach with some impressionistic touches.

DADDY NOSTALGIA features a subtle, touching performance from Dick Borgarde. Even without the context of it being his last acting role, Bogarde’s portrayal of a man nearing the end of his life is poignant and honest. He’s supported by an equally truthful performance by Jane Birkin.

The film rambles a bit and repeats itself but that didn’t bother me because Tavernier is examining real life, the daily interactions of a family. It’s a hard thing to do, straight drama, and something that I hope to tackle at some point in my career. I also like the way Tavernier blends English and French, a very casual combination of the languages.

Some feel that this film lives in the shadow of Tavernier’s A SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY. For me, it’s the other way around.

Watched on Criterion Channel.