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Pearl - Film Review (French Film Festival 2019)

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The Alliance Française French Film Festival rides into town for the month of March and April 2019 in places and on dates as per poster above. Celebrating its 30th Anniversary the Festival had a record of 185,000 spectators in 2018. With a 54 film lineup for 2019, it's the biggest cinematic event yet!

Complete with special events, special guests, special school screenings and multiple film passes, the good news doesn't stop there. You can WIN amazing prizes as well, but you have to be in it to win it, so check the WIN page on the website for a chance to take a trip to France or New Caledonia for 1st & 2nd prize, with 2 pamper packages for 3rd and 4th prize and an album collection for fifth. There's a lot to go through so good luck with planning your itinerary.

Pearl is a professional female athlete who works hard at being at the top of her game. Three days before the finals of Miss Heaven, a much sought after prestigious title, Léa Pearl is faced with a turn of events that pushes her to breaking point.

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Images - French Film Fest Aust 2019

Her ex-lover Ben turns up with their six-year-old son Joseph whom she abandoned soon after birth. He needs her to take care of him while he goes off chasing the next great deal that's going to improve his financial condition. Léa is dumped with an unfamiliar and unwanted situation, and that goes both ways for her and for her son.

An 80-minute long drama enjoying its Australian Premiere, it's director Elsa Amiel's first feature-length film. Léa is played by Julia Föry, a professional bodybuilder in her first acting role. She's accompanied by other real-life bodybuilders in supporting roles as it's safe to say any actor would be hard-pressed to reach the level of muscular fitness to pass as a professional bodybuilder. This is realism at its best. Multi-award winning Scottish actor and acclaimed art-house movie director Peter Mullan plays Léa's trainer. He's driven and pushes her to the limit; taking care of her and grooming her as if she were his prized bull that's going to take him to the top of his game.


They do say never to act with kids and animals, and Léa's on-screen son Joseph (child actor Vidal Arzoni) comes complete with limpid pools for eyes, topped only by his angelic face. His appearance makes Léa question what made her who she is. From the first moment the camera pans the body in a microscopic close-up in the opening shot to the end, the film doesn't waver from its subject; the professional athlete. It's not so much a film about a mother wrestling with the impact of a son suddenly appearing in her life, but more about an athlete taking stock of her life. This reassessing is magnified by the electronic pulse and rhythmic beat of the soundtrack that makes quite an impact on the viewer.

No relationship is fully explained, nor is any outcome treated with a heavy-handedness of clarity. Even without an especially involved narrative, it's a rich film that's deeply affecting and doesn't fail to deliver. Julia Föry is perfection in her first-time role as a non-professional actor. She paints the portrait of a complex, extraordinary woman with ease. For the director, to her knowledge, a woman's bodybuilding figure has never been represented in cinema and it was important that she related to the journey and the construction. Starting with the body for her was an important decision as it's the essence of Pearl's identity.

Pearl is the journey of a woman whom after a brush with a change in situation, wants to open herself up to what else may be out there and to re-establish what made her who she is.

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Why? Alliance Française French Film Festival Australia 2019
When: 5 March - 18 April 2019 Australia wide
Where: Palace Cinemas
Your Comment
I'm keen to see this film Jen.
by May Cross (score: 3|4106) 20 days ago
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