Our guide to the final week of the European Union Film Festival | Movie Sidebar | Chicago Reader

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Our guide to the final week of the European Union Film Festival

New films by Ulrich Seidl and Marco Bellochio screen this week.

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The 16th European Union Film Festival continues through Thursday, March 28, at Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800. Tickets are $11, $7 for students, and $6 for Film Center members. Following are selected films screening; for a complete schedule see siskelfilmcenter.org.

Aliyah Caught up in drug dealing, a French Jew (Pio Marmai) hits on the idea of emigrating to Israel; his plans are complicated by his growing romance with a golden-haired gentile (Adele Haenel). To make his pilgrimage, the hero has to learn Hebrew and obtain an official "certificate of Jewishness," but writer-director Elie Wajeman isn't much concerned by questions of religion or ethnicity; this story of a young dreamer looking to get out often seems like an Al Pacino vehicle from the 70s. Veteran French filmmaker Cedric Kahn (Red Lights) has a supporting role as the young man's father. In French with subtitles. J.R. Jones 88 min. Sun 3/24, 3 PM, and Mon 3/25, 6 PM.

Beyond the Walls This sleep-inducing Belgian romance recounts the doomed love between Paulo (Matila Malliarakis), a pretty blond boy who lives with his girlfriend, and Ilir (Guillaume Gouix), an Albanian bartender who takes him home one night. The first half of the movie plays like an endless "meet cute" between the two men, punctuated by a few heavy-breathing bedroom encounters; once Ilir is incarcerated, however, Paulo reveals a hitherto-unknown gift for drama-queen theatrics. Only the scenes showing him as a silent-film accompanist suggest any inner life beyond his desire to be Ilir's little buttercup, yet even this occupation seems more like a screenwriter's conceit than an aspect of his character. David Lambert directed his own script. In French with subtitles. J.R. Jones 96 min. Sat 3/23, 9 PM, and Mon 3/25, 7:45 PM.

Dormant Beauty This brooding ensemble drama by Marco Bellocchio centers on a young woman who's been kept alive in a vegetative state for 17 years, her case inspiring a national debate about mercy killing; the conscious characters include a young demonstrator (Alba Rohrwacher) campaigning for her right to live, a senator (Toni Servillo) about to vote on euthanasia legislation, and the girl's mother (Isabelle Huppert), who's given up her acting career for a life of Catholic devotion. Bellocchio's films range from masterpieces (Fists in the Pocket, Vincere) to pretentious misfires (Devil in the Flesh, The Conviction); this one ranks somewhere in between, a convoluted story that considers politics, religion, and individual will but never really gets to the point. In French and Italian with subtitles. —Ben Sachs 110 min. Fri 3/22, 8 PM, and Sun 3/24, 5 PM.

[Recommended]My Worst Nightmare Isabelle Huppert may be approaching self-parody as an icon of Gallic frigidity, yet the talented writer-director Anne Fontaine puts that to excellent use in this broad, obvious, but consistently funny bedroom farce. A haughty gallery owner (Huppert) clashes instantly with the vulgar workman (Benoit Poelvoorde) who is the single father of her son's favorite schoolmate; her elderly husband (Andre Dussollier) invites the man to stay with them as he remodels part of their house, and you can take it from there. Fontaine is one of the few current French directors capable of pulling off both heavy drama (How I Killed My Father, Entre Ses Mains) and rowdy comedy (The Girl From Monaco). Nicolas Mercier cowrote the script. In French with subtitles. J.R. Jones 99 min. Thu 3/28, 8:15 PM.

[Recommended]Paradise: Hope The final chapter of Ulrich Seidl's "Paradise" trilogy (2012) is surprisingly gentle; the longtime provocateur continues to poke fun at the Austrian bourgeoisie's obsession with order, but his attitude here is generally affectionate. This takes place at a weight-loss camp for preteens, run by humorless disciplinarians; despite the oppressive climate, the kids have a great time, forming close friendships and innocently discovering sex. The sunlit natural imagery seems to have been inspired by Renoir paintings (particularly a sequence in which the kids go swimming in a lake), and Seidl elicits a remarkable intimacy from his young actors. The main character is the daughter of the heroine in Paradise: Love, and though Seidl elaborates on themes introduced by the earlier film, this works perfectly well on its own. In German with subtitles. Ben Sachs 88 min. Sun 3/24, 3 PM, and Mon 3/25, 6 PM.

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