Freelancer and aspiring journalist from Adelaide. Visual Arts graduate & current journalism student. Fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, art & food. I also write for The Adelaidian // theadelaidian.net/author/georgina-tselekidis
Published December 20th 2016
A graphic-novel trilogy brought to life, beautifully
Rosalie Blum is a French comedy-drama film, with a touch of romance throughout, written and directed by Julien Rappeneau, and based on the graphic novel series by Camille Jourdy. This heartwarming and uplifting 2015 feature stars Noemie Lvovsky, Kyan Khojandi and Alice Isaaz.
The story is creatively put together in three parts, unfolding similarly to the well-known French film Amelie. Each character has a unique story to tell, tying into one another to encompass the whole narrative, with voice over narration as another form of directing the audience. Kyan Khojandi as Vincent works as a hairdresser but leads a very simple yet lonely life, living only a level up from his overbearing and needy mum who continuously craves Vincent's attention. One day as he visits a grocery store to purchase crab and lemon for his mother, he meets Rosalie Blum (Noemie Lvovsky), a middle-aged woman who shares a similar loneliness to Vincent. From this point on, Vincent becomes infatuated with Rosalie and stalks her every day to learn more about her. With this, we see a different type of narrative being told, as we discover small details about the characters through observation instead of direct storytelling. Both Rosalie and Vincent feed off one another, sharing some part of each other's history, and future.
The first chapter, of course, is all about Vincent's spying escapades, which at first may seem creepy or strange to the audience, but over time grows into an emotive journey of three lonely hearts who find solace in one another. As part two begins, we are introduced to twentysomething Aude (Alice Isaaz), who is in fact, Rosalie's niece, as well as a bystander in part one. The two chapters interconnect and we discover that Rosalie actually knows that Vincent is following her, instructing Aude to stalk him to see what he is up to. But in her mission to crack down on Vincent's plan, we see Aude grow fond of Vincent, and a love secretly blooms inside. It's a quirky love story that isn't as predictable as you would expect in western cinema.
The third and final chapter, and perhaps the most pivotal one, is about Rosalie who takes centre stage and ties up the story beautifully. After giving up her son Thomas for adoption, Rosalie has been left with a loneliness she cannot fill. Her past is a haunting shadow, and she is left to deal with it all alone. Her family also abandoned her, adding to her painful personal journey that brings deeper connotations to the script. But through meeting Vincent, Rosalie finds another reason to feel excited again, as she longs for human interaction. Rappaeneau takes a witty text and translates it strongly into an emotionally fueled and thought-provoking film that leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. It's different, but in a good way, as the story is told with a mix of third and first person narrative, giving a subtle insight into each character through someone else, and then diving at full speed into an individual's life in their own dedicated chapter. Perhaps the best part about the film is its unpredictability. I became mesmerised as the story unravelled, leaving so much to the imagination, with endless possibilities of what could happen next. The characters had everybody guessing. Is Vincent Rosalie's son? Who is Rosalie writing letters to? And why is Vincent so infatuated with a complete stranger? These are just some of the thoughts that come to mind when watching Rosalie Blum.
By choosing a not so familiar cast, Rappeneau makes the story more immediate and effective, giving a somewhat realistic spin to it all, as we find ourselves connecting to the protagonists in differing ways. Perhaps it's our own loneliness or yearning for love, a second chance, friendship or feelings of guilt that stop us from moving on. We empathise with the main characters, who undergo real-life experiences that are not fabricated for the big screen. Likewise, Rosalie's rather dark background is something to identify. She not only longs for human interaction, but also feels severe guilt and shame for giving her son up for adoption. We are reminded that the past will always exist, but we must forgive ourselves to truly move forward. Rosalie punishes herself, and in turn becomes addicted to alcohol and medication. But it is only until she meets Vincent, and reconnects with her niece Aude that she finds clarity and a reason to move forward and feel happy once again. Rappaneau teaches us a worthwhile moral about the importance of compassion, and that everyone has a story to tell.