Monday, March 1, 2010

On-Demand: Ilan Duran Cohen's THE JOY OF SINGING finally gets its U.S. chance

Making its New York debut last year as part of the FSLC's annual Rendez-vous with French Cinema (my review from 2009 is here), THE JOY OF SINGING -- that very odd combo of espionage, music, sex farce and philosophy (yes, it's French!) by Ilan Duran Cohen (shown below) can finally be seen again on our shores via IFC's On-Demand program. And maybe just in time to create a little buzz for this year's Rendez-vous series which begins mid-March. (TrustMovies will have much more on that subject next week.)

Even though it has taken this film a year to reach us (and without a theatrical release, at that) I'd still advise anyone with a taste for the outré and/or the pan-sexual, not to men-
tion an appreciation of music of all kinds, to take a look at this little treat.  Watching Cohen's movie a second time, I was struck with how important music is to everything here -- from the classical (that the music teacher insists her students learn) to the pop espoused by the character played by Jeanne Balibar (who sings, quite well, her songs).

The whole starry cast is made up of beautiful and talented actors, but it's Balibar (shown above in white) who shines brightest.  Her sleek physicality, warm voice and purring little smile are all so enticing, no wonder she wins over everyone from Julien Baumgartner (below, right, as a well-hung whore) to Caroline Ducey (as a voluptuous espionage agent).  Marina Fois (shown at bottom, right) and Lorànt Deutsch (bottom, left) make a charming pair of sparring intelligence agents, and Dominique Reymond and Natalie Richard (below, left) are aces as, respectively, the intelligence courier and Balibar's corrupt sister-in-law.

The Joy is Singing is certainly not for every taste. As with Cohen's earlier Confusion of Genders, the film is full of in-your-face sexuality of all sorts, with more full-frontal shots of M. Baumgartner than perhaps any other actor I can recall. Of course, I also don't recall any other actor (non-porno, at least) who is more deserving of these.  My second viewing of the movie, perhaps because I was prepared for the nudity, brought more of the film's sweet, giddy quality to the fore, as well as its music. From a charmingly home-
made Lakme duet to Crowded House's Don't Dream It's Over, this mix is a winner.

The Joy of Singing is available now from IFC On-Demand. Check your local TV reception supplier or click here to learn how (and if) you can access IFC's ever-increasing number of worthwhile foreign and independent films.

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