Carine Tardieu

François Damiens, Guy Marchand, Alice De Lencquesaing, Cécile De France and André Wilms

In JUST TO BE SURE, forty-five year old widower, Erwan (François Damiens), takes his pregnant daughter, Juliette (Alice de Lencquesaing) to be tested for a potentially genetic illness that his Aunt had been diagnosed with. The results of the DNA test prove to be more alarming than they had both expected. After confirmation that Juliette is all-clear of the illness, Erwan is informed that he shares no genes in common with his father. Faced with the shocking fact that the man he’s called dad for his entire life is not his real one, Erwan goes in search for his biological father that sets-up an awkward chain of events to follow.

Please don’t be mislead by a synopsis that may sound more serious in nature. A crowd-pleasing hit from the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, French comedy JUST TO BE SURE is sure to be the feel-good film showing in cinemas over the Christmas period.

A very creative and cleverly thought-out screenplay is more than enough to keep JUST TO BE SURE’s audience feeling entirely amused by the coincidental (and sometimes unfortunate) formation of the relations between the film’s primary characters. While its problematic and funny scenarios play out, a delightfully inventive script that is written with plenty of wit and quirk in characterisation amplifies the heartfelt entertainment continuously on offer. For instance, you just can’t disregard the smart and hilarious name of a particular canine and the ironic orders given to that dog. Or the very cheeky use of a certain item that is a substitute for a balloon. Such endearing writing works like these examples keep JUST TO BE SURE completely joyous to watch.

As a closing compliment, each of the acting performances from the well-known French cast are simply wonderful. 

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion
(Coarse language)


Moviedoc thanks Palace Films for the invite to the screening of this film.

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Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato
(Feature film debut)

Paulina García and Claudio Rissi

This Argentine-Chilean production set in Buenos Aires stars Chilean actress and theatre director Pauline Garcia (better known as Pali García) as Teresa, a house maid who has worked for the same family for several years.  When that family announces their plans to sell their home and move away from the Argentinian capital, Teresa’s life is faced with an uncertain future.

An Un Certain Regard Award and Golden Camera Nominee at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, THE DESERT BRIDE is a reasonably absorbing film by way of its seamless integration of subtle and heartfelt characterisation and a beautifully nuanced performance from Pali García. The screenplay earns appreciation from observing the simple interactions of Teresa that lets viewers see the kind, lonely and reticent woman that she is. Once this understanding has been garnered, the direction that Teresa’s life takes throughout THE DESERT BRIDE has its moments of genuine concern, joy and light poignancy that continue to engage. 

At just 78 minutes, THE DESERT BRIDE is a gradual paced minor film that isn’t without meaning and is worth seeing.

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion


Moviedoc thanks Asha Holmes Publicity for the invite to the screening of this film.

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Writer & Director / Martin Provost (SERAPHINE, VIOLETTE)
Stars/ Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Frot, Olivier Gourmet and Quentin Dolmaire

Two great Catherine’s of French cinema, Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot, headline the absorbing drama, THE MIDWIFE.

Midwife Claire (Frot), a late forties single mother of adult son Simon (Dolmaire), returns home from work one night to a surprise voicemail left by her father’s former lover, Béatrice (Deneuve). Quite keen to keep the unwanted reunion a short-lived one, Claire discovers that letting go of Béatrice isn’t as straightforward as she may have hoped, after receiving some unexpected news.


Boasting suitably splendid performances from its leading ladies and featuring excellent characterisation, THE MIDWIFE adds another healthy arrival to the French cinema world.

Before the revelation of that aforementioned unexpected news, THE MIDWIFE introduces the small number of activities and people that form the essential parts of Claire’s life. For a short time from Béatrice’s appearance, some mystery surrounding their connection in the past and the cause for their long separation is upheld. This segment of the film draws in enough curiosity to help maintain further investment once it is no longer concealing past secrets of its core characters. As it continues, the focus from writer/director Martin Provost shifts to the meaningful development and trajectory of the two women’s interactions. For viewers who may appreciate a little more, THE MIDWIFE has some extra depth in identifying the role that Claire and Béatrice are playing in one another’s lives. This is especially pivotal to comprehend when evaluating the concessions made by the sometimes inexplicably kind-hearted Claire.

Not every facet of their shared time together will be of equal interest to everyone, however, the most important moments are the ones that occupy the majority of screen time in this French drama that delivers the goods.

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion/ PG (Mild themes and coarse language)


Moviedoc thanks Palace Films for the invite to the screening of this film.

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Director / Roschdy Zem (OMAR KILLED ME/OMAR M’A TUER)
Stars/ Omar Sy, James Thierrée, Clotilde Hesme, Frédéric Pierrot and Noémie Lvovsky

In the late 1800’s, former Afro-Cuban slave turned circus performer Rafael Padilla, aka Chocolat (Omar Sy), entertains moderate sized audiences in the Northern parts of France. He earns his living playing a cannibal on stage, much to the amusement of a crowd who have never seen a man of colour before! During one of his routine yet lively performances, Chocolat is discovered by a reputable circus artist named Georges Footit (real-life circus performer and grandson of Charlie Chaplin, James Thierrée), who sees potential for success by forming a duo act to perform during the Belle Époque period in Paris.

2015 Mandarin Cinema - Gaumont-Photographe Julian Torres-257

There is both a triumph and a tragedy to be shared in this biographical film that chronicles the life story of the first-ever successful black circus artist in France. The true story of a man who broke a barrier that needed to be broken for generations to follow, even if it had to be at his own expense.

As an entertainer and a man of colour, Chocolat’s success always had its limitations. Given the time and place he is situated, the willingness to play the submissive half of a duo slapstick routine intended to be of comedic nature to its audience was the only option he had at making ends meet. Unfortunately, this shameful and derogatory treatment was not restricted to the stage alone. When not in character, Rafael’s vulnerabilities would subject him to manipulation by colleagues and employers. What must be emphasised to this point regarding this French drama is the fact it is not depressing to watch at all. Actually, it is often delightful viewing and the story is consistently engaging. This is largely due to the superb performance from Omar Sy and the characterisation of who he portrays. Chocolat, quite admirably, never truly succumbs to playing the victim. He adds value to his choice of employment that rewards him and even enjoys life by pursuing some romance. Therefore, witnessing Chocolat’s growth as a performer and as a person does bring a sense of joy, as does Omar Sy’s best role and performance since 2011’s THE INTOUCHABLES.

3 ½ stars

2015 Mandarin Cinema - Gaumont-Photographe Julian Torres-406

Viewer Discretion/ M (Mature themes, violence and coarse language) 

Trailer / CHOCOLAT

Moviedoc thanks Transmission Films for the invite to the screening of this film.

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Director / Pablo Larraín (JACKIE, NO)
Stars/ Luis Gnecco, Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro and Mercedes Morán

The Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film is a fascinating pursuit story set in Chile during the 1948 Cold War that is narrated via poetically written dialogue.

The President of Chile, Gabriel González Videla (Castro) has just outlawed communism, which has forced famous poet, Pablo Neruda (Gnecco) and his wife Delia (Morán) to go into hiding. Using the situation to inspire further writing, Pablo becomes a wanted fugitive in his own country when President Videla assigns police inspector Óscar Peluchonneau (Bernal) to arrest him.

In rather similar fashion to his previous work JACKIE, Pablo Larraín’s film renders a captivating story with a spotlight cast upon a real-life and famous personality that has a strong political connection to their position. Only here, the screenplay by Guillermo Caulderón is restrictive in its comprehension and therefore suited to more of an acquired taste.

Although much of the dialogue spoken in this film is heavily poetic in style, the plot developments made as Óscar Peluchonneau goes in search of the elusive Pablo Neruda remain clearly visible. In fact, the script gets extremely wordy at times during its narration. So as a tip, if you are struggling to keep up with the heavy reading of subtitles or deciphering the poetic wording, then keep your focus more on the visual storytelling. This aspect of the film is really beautiful to watch and features terrific acting from Luis Gnecco and Gael García Bernal. NERUDA really hits its peak during the final chapter as Peluchonneau seems to be closing in on his fugitive, but Neruda might just be writing another story that Peluchonneau is the subject of. These scenes also feature a stunning location to shoot, which the cinematography profoundly caresses.

NERUDA is quite an esteemed picture and a fitting retelling of a critical time in the life of the Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet and political icon.

3 ½ stars



Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (strong sex scenes and nudity)

Trailer / NERUDA

Moviedoc thanks Palace Films and The Backlot Studios for the invite to the screening of this film.

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Stars/ Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon, Edith Scob and Roman Kolinka

If you are a person who is in some way involved with philosophy, then the name Laurence Hanson-Løve may be familiar to you. Mia Hanson-Løve, who is the daughter of Laurence, a philosophy professor and the writer of Philosophy A to Z, writes and directs THINGS TO COME, which is based on her mother’s life.

Changing her mother’s real-life name to Nathalie for the film, the role has been written specifically for recent Oscar-nominee Isabelle Huppert (ELLE). Nathalie, a philosophy teacher, lives in Paris with her husband and two grown-up children. She loves her job and encourages her students to question everything, despite the protests currently taking place on school grounds. Outside of work, much of her time is consumed by her sick yet possessive mother (Edith Scob). Nathalie is soon forced to confront significant change in her life, however, after an unexpected announcement.


Not a great deal comes of THINGS TO COME, a French drama that is obliquely philosophical, which only sporadically and momentarily interests.

Mia Hansen-Løve’s screenplay consists of several episodic dialogues of a philosophical nature that are shared between Nathalie’s students, sometimes involving Nathalie too, though she does her best to avoid becoming too collaborative. As THINGS TO COME progresses, the more evident it is that these stilted discourses are forming the foundation of this story. Should you find yourself in the right mindset or be enraptured by these topical discussions, then THINGS TO COME will absorb your attention like a sponge does liquid. For all others, these dialogues are bound to come off as meaningless rambling, making it difficult to sight any possible theme to extract from them. Thankfully though, the film does have a saving grace in the form of its lead actress. Isabelle Huppert completely anchors THINGS TO COME. Ultimately, her tireless acting work, the life-altering events that come the way of her character and her responses and reactions to these is what compels the viewer to remain invested until the end.

2 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion/ M (coarse language and drug use)


Moviedoc thanks Palace Films for the distributor pass to view and review this film.

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Director / Cate Shortland (LORE, SOMERSAULT)
Stars/ Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt

The prestigious Australian film BERLIN SYNDROME casts an atmosphere of constant and escalating trepidation that is riveting to experience. Melbourne-born author Melanie Joosten, who was named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelists in 2012, visited Berlin herself as she backpacked through Europe at 22 years of age. This film is based on her debut novel that won the Kathleen Mitchell Award for Young Writers.

Teresa Palmer stars as Clare, a young Australian photographer who spends her first night of a backpacking expedition in the German capital. The intrepid and curious Clare, who is traveling alone, soon meets a handsome and charming local, Andi (Max Riemelt). He invites Clare back to his apartment and the two of them engage in a passionate night of romance. Shortly after Andi leaves for work, Clare discovers that she has been locked inside his apartment. And he has no intention of letting her go.

This is what many Australian films strive to be, but often fall short in their attempts. Steadily paced, yet never too drawn-out, BERLIN SYNDROME is a transfixing film that has the authenticity and compelling storytelling to match its powerful sensory presence.

Adapted for the screen by writer Shaun Grant (writer of JASPER JONES), BERLIN SYNDROME becomes unsettling yet utterly intriguing as the two lead characters engage in a battle of psychological warfare and welfare. A battle in which Andi may have a propensity for violence. He is a puzzling and complex character. A school teacher by day, Andi has a rather gentle facade and seems to possess a genuine kind of love for the imprisoned foreigner. As the script fascinatingly delves deeper into his personal life, it doesn’t neglect a helpless Clare who is becoming more aware that the longer she remains in his possession, the sooner an inevitable fate awaits.

Acclaimed filmmaker Cate Shortland, who was nominated for the dramatic world cinema Grand Jury Prize Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, is guaranteed to win several awards at home and around the world at upcoming festivals for this excellent film. Shot on location in Berlin before production moved to Melbourne, BERLIN SYNDROME is a stunningly photographed film that features a stand-out and spine-chilling score. Max Riemelt and HACKSAW RIDGE star Teresa Palmer give measured and magnificent performances in a film that Palmer has described her participation in as one of the most transformational experiences of her life as well as the most liberating film experience of her career. See it, and you’ll understand exactly why.

4 stars

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (strong themes, violence and sex scenes. Also contains nudity and some language.)


Moviedoc thanks Entertainment One and The Backlot Studios for the invite to this film screening.

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