Seaside | Chicago Reader


Winner of the Camera d'Or at Cannes, this 2002 feature by Julie Lopes-Curval might be a little too convincing for its own good. Desultorily following several characters through a year in their none too eventful lives in a small French resort town, the film successfully captures the dull rhythm of seasonal community shifts, the strained conversation and uncertain silences that characterize exchanges between those who left home and those who stayed behind, and the slow, incremental breakups and re-formations of couples and families. Like a lot of recent French films, it shines brightest when it ventures into the workplace. Pierre, a lifeguard by summer, clerks in a grocery store during the rest of the year. His mother (Bulle Ogier) sneaks off to feed her pension and mortgage payments to the slots at the local casino, the same establishment that employs her daughter. Pierre's girlfriend sorts rocks on the assembly line of a gravel factory, the town's sole nontourist industry. And the former factory owner's son, whose upbringing in the family-run business has left him ill prepared for the cutthroat practices of modern corporate management, aimlessly tools around town in a red sports car. As they say, plus ca change . . . In French with subtitles. 88 min.

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