Those French


No joke, Gerard came up in a search for "typical Frenchman".

No joke, Gerard came up in a search for “typical Frenchman”.

On the endless flight from Dubai to Sydney, I watched not one but two French movies – in a row no less. Arguably not good for a person’s sleep-deprived mood since the French are invariably morose. The first, Un Beau Dimanche, was kind of crap. The second, Avant l’Hiver, I rather liked even though it shared with the first that particular brand of French melancholy (don’t let the word “beau” in the title fool you). I was going to say, grey-skied melancholy but upon reflection I remembered that the first movie was actually set in the sunny south. But even in those conditions, the film-maker managed to make the light overly harsh so that the players were either over-exposed or obscured in shadow. Note the imagery is not lost on me but the question is why: why are all these good-looking (well, the women anyway, the men all look like variations on Gérard Depardieu), often rich, café-going people so glum (but not unhappy, the quality of sadness is too sentimental for that)? That’s a mystery the movies never resolve. It appears to be a French thing.

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