Café de flore
Winter 2012 Features series
Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 4:00pm
Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 7:00pm
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Screenplay by Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring Vanessa Paradis, Kevin Parent, and Hélène Florent
Rated 14A ·
Canada / France
Café de flore
Following his British period drama, The Young Victoria, Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée returns to French-language filmmaking with this unconventional love story in which two narratives are rhythmically woven together to create a tale of emotion and destiny.
Set in present-day Montréal, the first story focuses on Antoine (Kevin Parent), a successful DJ and divorced father of two girls who is wildly infatuated with his girlfriend Rose (Evelyne Brochu, Polytechnique). However, Antoine still has extremely strong ties to his ex, Carole (Hélène Florent), and it’s evident they are not entirely over one another. Carole harbours a secret belief that Antoine will return to her, as their eldest daughter torments her father by blaring her parents’ defining love song at every opportunity.
The second story takes place in Paris in 1969. Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis, Heartbreaker) is the fiercely devoted single mother of Laurent, a young boy with Down syndrome. With her son’s life expectancy limited to 25 years, Jacqueline dedicates every spare moment to enriching and prolonging his life. Their days are rituals of school drop-offs, affectionate kisses and Laurent’s constant request to listen to the jazz album “Café de flore.” When a young girl who also has Down syndrome joins Laurent’s class, Jacqueline’s tightly woven world begins to fray.
As it did in Vallée’s hit C.R.A.Z.Y., music plays a crucial role in Café de flore, encapsulating the characters’ memories and emotions, forming the soundtracks to their lives and fervently filling the edges of the screen. It seems initially that music is the only link between the two stories, but as Carole’s nightmares and sleepwalking intensify, we begin to sense that she is connected to Jacqueline in a much deeper way. Viewers who only know him for the stately The Young Victoria may be taken aback by the film’s unflinching sexuality, which is elegantly captured yet raw. With its superbly paced fluidity, Café de flore possesses an undeniable musicality: its layered, rhythmic beat mixing together two powerful tales of love and loss. A sensation at the 2011 Atlantic Film Festival, it won the award for the best Canadian feature.