Presented by Facets Cinematheque and French Cultural Services in Chicago, this festival runs Friday, December 1, through Sunday, December 10, at Facets Cinematheque. For more information call 773-281-4114; a complete schedule is available online at www.facets.org. All films are in French with subtitles.
Fissures A sound recordist (Emilie Dequenne of Rosetta) investigates the murder of her mother, a clairvoyant in a farming community, and discovers she can record the past as well as the present. Using string to chart the paths taken by old sounds, she constructs a kind of spiderweb in the house where her mother died--so it may not be coincidental that her name is Charlotte. It's a striking poetic conceit, developed with some flair by first-time writer-director Alante Kavaite, though eventually it engulfs the mystery story, making the latter seem almost like an afterthought. The French title translates as "Listen to Time." 87 min. (JR) a Sat 12/2, 9 PM, and Tue 12/5, 7 PM.
In Paris Jilted by his lover, an emotionally withholding mope (Romain Duris of The Beat That My Heart Skipped) moves back into the cramped Parisian apartment of his divorced father (Guy Marchand) and younger brother (Louis Garrel), an indifferent student but a tireless ladies' man. Writer-director Christophe Honore strives for a lighter touch than in his previous film, Ma Mere, but he confuses ponderousness with drama and for comic relief resorts to hackneyed stylistic devices like fast motion. Garrel's annoying direct address to the camera is the least of this film's problems, which include awkward tonal shifts and a dearth of likable characters. With Marie-France Pisier. 89 min. (AG) a Sat 12/2, 7 PM, and Mon 12/4, 9 PM.
The Ring Finger In this cryptic, erotically charged 2005 fairy tale, a beautiful young factory worker (Olga Kurylenko) quits her assembly-line job after severing a finger and winds up employed as a laboratory assistant at a scientific institute. Her job cataloging "specimens"--personal items whose owners want them preserved for posterity--soon gives way to a vaguely masochistic relationship with a Svengali-like scientist (Marc Barbe). Adapted from a novel by Japanese writer Yoko Ogawa, the story begs for the true transgressiveness of Takashi Miike, but director Diane Bertrand turns it into one long, dreamy, beautifully shot tease. 100 min. (Reece Pendleton) a Sun 12/3, 3 PM, and Wed 12/6, 9 PM.
RA Ticket to Space Hoping to sell its expensive space program to a reluctant public, the French government holds a national lottery in which the top prizes are two seats on the next space shuttle, and two dubious contenders win. Eric Lartigau's slick and engaging farce gets sillier by the moment, especially once the crew is taken hostage and a monstrous giant turkey turns up on board. But you probably won't mind if you're looking strictly for laughs and good-natured send-ups of other SF movies. With Andre Dusollier. 90 min. (JR) a Sat 12/2, 3 PM.
You're So Handsome The vogue among Westerners for mail-order brides from impoverished countries is the contemporary inspiration for this romantic comedy (2005) with a decidedly old-fashioned feel. Michel Blanc (Monsieur Hire) plays an emotionally stunted French farmer whose wife suddenly dies, leaving him more work than he can manage alone. Trying to protect his personal affairs from his eccentric relatives and neighbors, he travels surreptitiously to Romania, returns home with a kindhearted young beauty (Medeea Marinescu), and attempts to pass her off as a distant relation. The plot is largely predictable, but the charming and skillful leads make this a palatable trifle. Isabelle Mergault directed her own script. 95 min. (AG) a Mon 12/4, 7 PM.