DRAMA; 2hr (French with subtitles)
STARRING: Vanessa Paradis, Kevin Parent, Hélène Florent, Evelyne Brochu
Love story: Paradis and Gerrier
There are two parallel stories in writer-director Jean-Marc Vallée’s intriguing Café de Flore — not the famous Boulevard Saint-Germain café; the title refers to a piece of music. In one, Montréal DJ Antoine (Parent) and his new love, Rose (Brochu), are a torment to Antoine’s ex-wife of 20 years, Carole (Florent), who is still in love with him. In the second, Jacqueline (Paradis), the single mother of a Down Syndrome son (Marin Gerrier as Laurent), dedicates her life to him in 1960s Paris.
Though decades and poles apart, the situations are linked by an obvious through-line of romantic and maternal love. (A more spiritual and borderline wiggy connection emerges later on.) Vallée’s difuse and sometimes confusing screenplay leapfrogs between time and place as the deeper truth of the twin narratives is revealed. Poetic and puzzling by turns, with understanding performances and an atmosphere immersed in longing, this is a definite go-with-the-flow proposition. After all, love is complex and mysterious. The French have always known that.