A Word from the Editor
This issue’s two films and one novel focus on women. Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Jeune fille modèle do so more directly than Children of Paradise, where four men’s love interest, Garance, is central to the story but not exclusively.
In her review of Portrait de la jeune fille en feu, Amy Freund stresses the utopian penchants of the film as it presents an ideal society created by three women: Héloïse, the noblewoman, Marianne, the painter, and Sophie, the maid. This involves a torrid love affair, an abortion, and much convivial cooking and frolicking. Although some of its content is anachronistic, the way that director Céline Sciamma frames the film and marries art and life provides a splendid vision of women’s lot in late eighteenth-century France.
With Grace Ly, as Dervila Cooke tells us, we move into the present but one haunted by a dramatic past. Teen-aged Chi-Chi is trying hard to navigate her Chinese-Cambodian heritage which frustrates her desires to fit into her native land, France. The issues of hybridity are raised with other characters, survivors of Pol Pot’s murderous regime, and with a young Franco-Maghreban youth. In so doing, Cooke asserts, Ly has created a provocative and important novel that joins a vibrant French literature on mixed identities and exile.
We return to the past with Laura Mason’s review of Les enfants du paradis, set in the first half of the nineteenth century among Parisian Bohemians, artists, actors, criminals, and cold-hearted aristocrats. It is a film about le peuple, but it is also a commentary on the Occupation, as the film was made during the last stages of the war. Aside from its remarkable cast of actors and brilliant sets, the lasting attraction of the film lies in the appeal of the Romantic era and a buoyant vision of the people that populated it.
University at Buffalo, SUNY
Table of Contents
Love and Art: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (2019), by Amy Freund
Hybrid identities: Jeune fille modèle by Grace Ly, by Dervila Cooke
The Soul of France on the Boulevard du Crime: Marcel Carné’s Les enfants du paradis, by Laura Mason