Friday, February 10, 2017

FIAF's comedy series takes off with the U.S. premiere of Jean-Christophe Meurisse's APNEE

Fascinating, annoying -- even sometimes actually funny -- but always interesting, this first film by French theater director Jean-Christophe Meurisse is determined to knock the socks off its audience. Indeed, we remain barefoot just about throughout. Beginning with a threesome -- two men and a woman -- who arrive at city hall in bridal gowns and insist that they be married to each other, after which the civil servant who tries to reason with them is driven 'round the bend, we then get the movie's opening credits, during which the three ice skate -- and quite professionally, too -- in the nude. (This may be not actually be our three actors, since each is hidden behind a facial mask.)

Yes, these are ground-breaking scenes, of a sort, as is what follows: the three, as shown above, taking a bath in a showroom window. Our little group are clearly troublemakers, transgressors who, more than anything else, simply want to flip our declining civilization the bird. M. Meurisse, shown at left, who both wrote and directed APNEE, is nothing if not determined. And that determination begins to wear one down long before the movie finds its finale. Yet, so different is it in its dead-set dedication from almost any other movie you'll have encountered, that it proves very hard, even for a moment, to avert your gaze.

And so, along the kind of road trip the threesome takes, we tackle everything sacrosanct from religion and family to art and consumerism, marriage and sex (though, as concerns the latter, neither our two guys nor their woman seem all that interested or able to even enjoy sex. Or. come to think of it, much of anything else, save making trouble.

What all this accomplishes is to turn our threesome into something symbolic rather than real or human. They exist to make a point, and damned it they don't make it -- over and over again. The three lead performers -- above, left to right: Céline Fuhrer, Maxence Tual and Thomas Scimeca -- are attractive and sometime funny, but they exist in the vacuum that Meurisse has created, so it's difficult to breathe or grow.

Still, that vacuum is an original, all right, and it's an interesting one. Highlights include a visit to a "typical" empty-nest family, in which the trio questions the elders about their family life, and to a gorgeous village-by-the-sea in which we meet a tubby postman (above, right) who turns into a kind of muse for our boys.

Along the way we meet Jesus, too, and eventually the trio gets its wedding, complete with a bacchanale that features opera and wrestling. Ah, but is our little threesome happy at last? Take a guess.

So far as TrustMovies knows, Apnée has never been seen here in the U.S., which makes this FIAF premiere an especially notable one. The film -- part of the FIAF CinéSalon continuing series, Comedy on Film: What Makes the French Laugh -- will show this coming Tuesday, February 14 (how appropriate: for Valentine's Day!) at 4pm and 7:30pm at Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street, New York City.

To learn more information and/or to procure tickets, simply click here.

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