french films > Strange Gardens

Strange  Gardens

Strange Gardens

cast: Jacques Villeret, André Dussollier, Thierry Lhermitte, Benoit Magimel

year: 2003

colour: no

certificate: U

director: Jean Becker

runtime: 97

"As a solid and salutary tale of decency and courage in wartime, Strange Gardens touches and entertains in equal measure. Jean Becker knows perfectly how to exploit the virtues of a story well worth telling. Expanded from Michel Quints's 60-page novella, the bittersweet exercise in humanism is largely in the form of a flashback to the closing month of the Second World War, recounted from the vantage point of the very early 60s. Adolescent Lucien (Damien Jouillerot) dislikes the fact that his father, Jacques (Jacques Villeret, the nerd in The Dinner Game), a respected schoolteacher, introduces silly touches in the classroom and performs a clown act at each village fête. Seeing the boy's discomfort, Jacques' best friend, André (André Dussolier), takes Lucien aside to fill in the blanks. Althoug there is much good humour, the narrative is never trite about actions and consequences, adopting the approach that most of the French muddled the Occupation as best they could without daring to rock the boat. The score by Kryzstof Kieslowski's erstwhile composer Zbigniew Preisner is just right and so is the period production design." (Cine-Lumiere/Institut Français)

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