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Je vous trouve très beau: from reception to representation Ioana Mohor-Ivan.

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Presentation on theme: "Je vous trouve très beau: from reception to representation Ioana Mohor-Ivan."— Presentation transcript:

1 Je vous trouve très beau: from reception to representation Ioana Mohor-Ivan

2 Je vous trouve très beau Producer: Jean- Louis Livi Director: Isabelle Mergault Writer: Isabelle Mergault Production company: Gaumont & France 2 Cinéma Cast: Michel Blanc, Medeea Marinescu Release Date: 11 January 2006 (France) 18 January 2006 (Belgium) 27 April 2006 (Italy) 14 June 2006 (USA) 15 June 2006 (Israel) 23 September 2006 (Serbia) 6 December 2006 (Romania) 8 February 2007 (Germany) 21 September 2007 (South Korea) 4 April 2008 (Mexico) Awards: 2007 César Best First Work (Isabelle Mergault) 2007 “Love is Folly” International Film Festival, Bulgaria – Best Actor (Michel Blanc)

3 Plot A bitter-sweet romance that focuses on the relationship between Aymé (a widowed middle- aged French farmer who seeks a new wife to help him with work on the farm) and Elena (the young, beautiful but poor Romanian girl who would do anything to help her 6-year old daughter escape the misery in which they live). A bitter-sweet romance that focuses on the relationship between Aymé (a widowed middle- aged French farmer who seeks a new wife to help him with work on the farm) and Elena (the young, beautiful but poor Romanian girl who would do anything to help her 6-year old daughter escape the misery in which they live). The comic arises out of the various (cultural, ethnic, gender, generational) clashes between the two main characters. The comic arises out of the various (cultural, ethnic, gender, generational) clashes between the two main characters.

4 Reception: The Outsider’s View “Je vous trouve tres beau” was the sensation of the French box office in 2006, earning over 20 million Euros. “Je vous trouve tres beau” was the sensation of the French box office in 2006, earning over 20 million Euros. It, correspondingly, received mostly laudatory reviews from both French as well as other international film critics and cinema goers: It, correspondingly, received mostly laudatory reviews from both French as well as other international film critics and cinema goers: “Director Mergault adopts a light touch here, delicately charting the subtly hilarious relationship between Aymé and Elena. Proudly old fashioned in script and execution, and boasting an unpretentious charm, “Je vous trouve tres beau” sparkles with wit and is a handsomely rewarding cinema experience.” (Alliance Francaise French Film Festival, Australia, 2007) “Director Mergault adopts a light touch here, delicately charting the subtly hilarious relationship between Aymé and Elena. Proudly old fashioned in script and execution, and boasting an unpretentious charm, “Je vous trouve tres beau” sparkles with wit and is a handsomely rewarding cinema experience.” (Alliance Francaise French Film Festival, Australia, 2007)

5 Allocine.com: Message Board Allocine.com: Message Board “Loved the movie! I chose to see it as I wished for a light romantic comedy. I received much more. Not a "funny" comedy but a "chamber" movie with two chamber players, gentle, touching and heart-warming. I loved every character's portrayal, including Ciufu the dog. Coming out of the cinema, I saw smiling faces and overheard men commenting, in surprise, that they did enjoy the movie. The matching of an older -not exactly handsome- man with a younger, vivacious woman, reminded me of two other movies (that quite differ): 1. "Alexandre Le bienheureux",1967,(Philippe Noiret v.Marlene Jobert)- (Hilarious!) 2. "As good as it gets" (Jack Nicholson v. Helen Hunt)- (saw it twice and still find the chemistry unconvincing). I shall definitely add this movie to my DVD collection.” (reponseb - 04/12/2007) “Loved the movie! I chose to see it as I wished for a light romantic comedy. I received much more. Not a "funny" comedy but a "chamber" movie with two chamber players, gentle, touching and heart-warming. I loved every character's portrayal, including Ciufu the dog. Coming out of the cinema, I saw smiling faces and overheard men commenting, in surprise, that they did enjoy the movie. The matching of an older -not exactly handsome- man with a younger, vivacious woman, reminded me of two other movies (that quite differ): 1. "Alexandre Le bienheureux",1967,(Philippe Noiret v.Marlene Jobert)- (Hilarious!) 2. "As good as it gets" (Jack Nicholson v. Helen Hunt)- (saw it twice and still find the chemistry unconvincing). I shall definitely add this movie to my DVD collection.” (reponseb - 04/12/2007) IMDb: Message Board IMDb: Message Board “This is a film that I think someone from up there inspired, every inch of the way, from the story, to the direction and, most of all, to the cast. It's a great mystery for me how can anyone not adore this gem of a film about the birth of love. I thought a lot about it, and the more I think about it, it seems to me the film is a very sour- sweet meditation on today's world, where nothing is simple, compassion and love are mingled into one big feeling, a comment on the tragedy of human life. It is very much a film of this beginning of the new millennium, and yet it reminded me, I don't know how and why, of another sweet and sad story, that of Isihiguro's Never let me go. They are both, at very different levels, part of the same big thing. We are all here for just a tiny moment, let's try and make the most of it.” (zazoo, Fri Dec :54:20) “This is a film that I think someone from up there inspired, every inch of the way, from the story, to the direction and, most of all, to the cast. It's a great mystery for me how can anyone not adore this gem of a film about the birth of love. I thought a lot about it, and the more I think about it, it seems to me the film is a very sour- sweet meditation on today's world, where nothing is simple, compassion and love are mingled into one big feeling, a comment on the tragedy of human life. It is very much a film of this beginning of the new millennium, and yet it reminded me, I don't know how and why, of another sweet and sad story, that of Isihiguro's Never let me go. They are both, at very different levels, part of the same big thing. We are all here for just a tiny moment, let's try and make the most of it.” (zazoo, Fri Dec :54:20)

6 Reception: The Insider’s View Nevertheless, within a Romanian context, the film received mixed responses both from film critics and cinema goers: Nevertheless, within a Romanian context, the film received mixed responses both from film critics and cinema goers: “A simple and touching love-story … which enchanted the French and made the French press eulogize the talent of Medeea Marinescu. […] A very good passport for Romania.” (Stefan Dobroiu, Cinemagia, December 2006) (my emphasis) “A simple and touching love-story … which enchanted the French and made the French press eulogize the talent of Medeea Marinescu. […] A very good passport for Romania.” (Stefan Dobroiu, Cinemagia, December 2006) (my emphasis) “An unpretentious movie which also lacks depth. Playing upon the motif of the poor but young and hard-working woman who conquers the heart of the grumpy landlord across today’s European map, the director only manages to pile up a series of stereotypes, without ever turning them upside-down in order to prove thus that they are false.” (Iulia Blaga, “Behind the Tail of the European Cow”, România Liberă, December 2006) (my emphasis) “An unpretentious movie which also lacks depth. Playing upon the motif of the poor but young and hard-working woman who conquers the heart of the grumpy landlord across today’s European map, the director only manages to pile up a series of stereotypes, without ever turning them upside-down in order to prove thus that they are false.” (Iulia Blaga, “Behind the Tail of the European Cow”, România Liberă, December 2006) (my emphasis)

7 IMDb message board: IMDb message board: “I hadn't expect to like this movie. It deals with things from my country I desperately wanted to escape from - lack of money, desperation, the small price a woman can ask for herself. And I hadn't really liked a Romanian movie eversince I was a child and I was watching silly communist movies. But this movie had good credentials and people close to me had enjoyed it, so when I had the chance I watched it, first with prejudiced disgust, then with interest and at the end with emotion. It is a lovely movie, about not so lovely people that in the end turn out to be just fabulous. It is the first movie about ugly Romania that I actually enjoyed watching. I am grateful for that.” (biddo77, 3 december 2007) “I hadn't expect to like this movie. It deals with things from my country I desperately wanted to escape from - lack of money, desperation, the small price a woman can ask for herself. And I hadn't really liked a Romanian movie eversince I was a child and I was watching silly communist movies. But this movie had good credentials and people close to me had enjoyed it, so when I had the chance I watched it, first with prejudiced disgust, then with interest and at the end with emotion. It is a lovely movie, about not so lovely people that in the end turn out to be just fabulous. It is the first movie about ugly Romania that I actually enjoyed watching. I am grateful for that.” (biddo77, 3 december 2007) “I watched this film today on HBO and it pissed me off! That narrow- minded farmer played by Michel Blanc spoke with despise about a country he barely knew. And what a humiliation for all those Romanians involved in it... Medeea who can usually play well, (after all she is at the National Theatre in Bucharest), turned herself into a desperate, naive girl, (kind of a simpleton), with a primitive accent when speaking in French! While I can understand the French writer for such an arrogant and stereotypical work, I can`t understand at all how come nobody in the Romanian team of this film did anything in order to set the things better.” (corina_m, Tue Jul :14:13) “I watched this film today on HBO and it pissed me off! That narrow- minded farmer played by Michel Blanc spoke with despise about a country he barely knew. And what a humiliation for all those Romanians involved in it... Medeea who can usually play well, (after all she is at the National Theatre in Bucharest), turned herself into a desperate, naive girl, (kind of a simpleton), with a primitive accent when speaking in French! While I can understand the French writer for such an arrogant and stereotypical work, I can`t understand at all how come nobody in the Romanian team of this film did anything in order to set the things better.” (corina_m, Tue Jul :14:13)

8 This completely insults Romania! “So as a Romanian woman, I should feel offended by the main plot, but it's a known fact that (some, if not few) girls in my country indeed would subject to almost anything to go abroad and escape poverty. It was a small, almost insignificant detail in the movie that totally "pissed me off", if you will. “So as a Romanian woman, I should feel offended by the main plot, but it's a known fact that (some, if not few) girls in my country indeed would subject to almost anything to go abroad and escape poverty. It was a small, almost insignificant detail in the movie that totally "pissed me off", if you will. The complete undervaluation of our economy! It was impossible for Elena to be a billionaire with merely euros even when our national currency wasn't relatively strong in comparison with the euro, as it is at the moment (aprox lei\1 euro). The prices for houses and apartments in Bucharest are known to be similar to those in Manhattan! You couldn't purchase a square metre of land in Bucharest with euros, let alone open a dance school AND buy a house. And the estimate rent for a space as big as that required for a dance school, and which meets the necessary conditions is aprox euros\month. The "there, it's a lot of money for us line" made me sick. Indeed, salaries are small, but prices are sky-high. If you want a poor country and city where people actually do think euros is SUCH a big deal, don't pick Romania and definitely not Bucharest.” (diadeedyi, Tue Jul :18:02)

9 A conflict of type and stereotype? “In fictions, social types and stereotypes can be recognized as distinct by the different ways in which they can be used. This is most clearly seen in relation to plot. Social types can figure in almost any kind of plot (e.g. as hero, as villain, as helper, as light relief, etc), whereas stereotypes always carry within their very representation an implicit narrative.” (Richard Dyer, “The Role of Stereotypes”, The Matter of Images, New York: Routledge, 1993, p. 15) “In fictions, social types and stereotypes can be recognized as distinct by the different ways in which they can be used. This is most clearly seen in relation to plot. Social types can figure in almost any kind of plot (e.g. as hero, as villain, as helper, as light relief, etc), whereas stereotypes always carry within their very representation an implicit narrative.” (Richard Dyer, “The Role of Stereotypes”, The Matter of Images, New York: Routledge, 1993, p. 15)

10 Social Types Social type: “a human prototype-a sociological summary of the typical characteristics of a particular group or of a category of human beings usually recognized and typed by the public and often granted a nickname. This group or category may be a secondary group, a community, a profession, a subculture, a status group, a class or a generation unit that is characterized by its look (physical, fashionable or both), life style and philosophy, pattern of interaction (particularly linguistic), attitudes and certain psychological traits.” (Oz Almog, “The Problem of Social Type: A Review”, Electronic Journal of Sociology, 1998) Social type: “a human prototype-a sociological summary of the typical characteristics of a particular group or of a category of human beings usually recognized and typed by the public and often granted a nickname. This group or category may be a secondary group, a community, a profession, a subculture, a status group, a class or a generation unit that is characterized by its look (physical, fashionable or both), life style and philosophy, pattern of interaction (particularly linguistic), attitudes and certain psychological traits.” (Oz Almog, “The Problem of Social Type: A Review”, Electronic Journal of Sociology, 1998) Sources for the emergence of social types: Sources for the emergence of social types: occupational role type: characterized by total internalization of a particular occupational role, so that the role is enacted not only in the context of the role-partner interaction but also in general, including private, life. occupational role type: characterized by total internalization of a particular occupational role, so that the role is enacted not only in the context of the role-partner interaction but also in general, including private, life. psychological type: the inborn traits and tendencies that form a typical personality. psychological type: the inborn traits and tendencies that form a typical personality. cultural/subcultural: the dominant behavior is typical of the individual's culture or subculture. cultural/subcultural: the dominant behavior is typical of the individual's culture or subculture. mythological: formed by the interaction of fiction and reality. mythological: formed by the interaction of fiction and reality.

11 Je Vous Trouve Tres … Typical The box-office success of the film can be accounted for in terms of it being perceived as a typical romantic comedy involving the development of a relationship between a man and a woman, with the plot line following "boy-gets-girl", "boy-loses-girl", "boy gets girl back again" sequence, where much of the humour lies in the social interactions and sexual tensions between the pair. The box-office success of the film can be accounted for in terms of it being perceived as a typical romantic comedy involving the development of a relationship between a man and a woman, with the plot line following "boy-gets-girl", "boy-loses-girl", "boy gets girl back again" sequence, where much of the humour lies in the social interactions and sexual tensions between the pair. As such, the film foregrounds ‘social types’ along the following paradigms: As such, the film foregrounds ‘social types’ along the following paradigms: occupational: rural / urban occupational: rural / urban psychological: introvert / extrovert; pragmatic / dreamer; morose / light- hearted psychological: introvert / extrovert; pragmatic / dreamer; morose / light- hearted cultural: West / East cultural: West / East mythological: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast. mythological: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast. gender: male / female gender: male / female

12 Stereotype [If] social-types are as realistic as most concepts used in everyday life may be expected to be; they are needed for effective participation in modern secondary society, and are characteristically applied within the system to promote insightful relations rather than to hold people at a distance or portray outside groups in an inaccurate way” [… ] "a stereotype is often, if not generally, viewed as an inaccurate, rigid popular concept playing an important part in prejudice. It is not rational and interferes with insight.... " (E. O. Klapp, "Social Types: Process and Structure." American Sociological Review 23: 675) [If] social-types are as realistic as most concepts used in everyday life may be expected to be; they are needed for effective participation in modern secondary society, and are characteristically applied within the system to promote insightful relations rather than to hold people at a distance or portray outside groups in an inaccurate way” [… ] "a stereotype is often, if not generally, viewed as an inaccurate, rigid popular concept playing an important part in prejudice. It is not rational and interferes with insight.... " (E. O. Klapp, "Social Types: Process and Structure." American Sociological Review 23: 675) “A distinction needs to be made between stereotypes of the Other and images of the Other. The latter may be defined as the representation of a cultural reality, while the former has to be considered as a pejorative, reductive, monosemic, essentialist and discriminatory representation of the Other. The stereotype of the Other involves an elementary conception of the dichotomy between the ‘in-group’ and the ‘out-group’.” (Christiane Villain-Gandossi, “The Genesis of Stereotypes in the Interplay of Identity and Otherness in North-South Relations”, Hermes, No. 30/2007, p. 23) “A distinction needs to be made between stereotypes of the Other and images of the Other. The latter may be defined as the representation of a cultural reality, while the former has to be considered as a pejorative, reductive, monosemic, essentialist and discriminatory representation of the Other. The stereotype of the Other involves an elementary conception of the dichotomy between the ‘in-group’ and the ‘out-group’.” (Christiane Villain-Gandossi, “The Genesis of Stereotypes in the Interplay of Identity and Otherness in North-South Relations”, Hermes, No. 30/2007, p. 23)

13 Je vous trouve tres … reductive The mixed Romanian reception of the film may be accounted for in terms of its being perceived to recycle stereotypical representations of national identity. The mixed Romanian reception of the film may be accounted for in terms of its being perceived to recycle stereotypical representations of national identity. Romanian Stereotypes or Images? Corruption Dracula country Poverty Nadia Comaneci Backwardness Beautiful women Orphanages Latin temperament Prostitutes Ceausescu’s Palace Stray dogs Archaic countryside Gypsies Artistically gifted Illegal immigrants Hardworking CriminalityTolerant

14 Je vous trouve … slightly subversive Though Mergault’s film makes recourse to both type and stereotype, it also manages to subvert and demonstrate the conventional nature of images by relocating (at times) perceived national/ethnic/racial/cultural oppositions: Though Mergault’s film makes recourse to both type and stereotype, it also manages to subvert and demonstrate the conventional nature of images by relocating (at times) perceived national/ethnic/racial/cultural oppositions: West / East dichotomies Je vous trouve tres beau FranceRomaniaFranceRomania SelfOtherSelfOther CentrePeripheryCentrePeriphery MasculineFeminineMasculineFeminine UrbanRuralRuralUrban ProgressImmobilityImmobilityProgress HarmonyDissonanceDissonanceHarmony In-groupOut-groupIn-groupIn-group

15 From text to context The timing of the film points to the expected entrance of Romania into the European Union, with France being one of her main advocates for this integration. The timing of the film points to the expected entrance of Romania into the European Union, with France being one of her main advocates for this integration. It comes immediately after the 2005 identity crises which the French society faced when young Muslim people of immigrant origin, who felt they were discriminated against and marginalised in high-rise suburban ghettos, expressed themselves in the “worst violence for 40 years”. It comes immediately after the 2005 identity crises which the French society faced when young Muslim people of immigrant origin, who felt they were discriminated against and marginalised in high-rise suburban ghettos, expressed themselves in the “worst violence for 40 years”. The two factors may have impinged upon the French popular consciousness by replacing the traditional “West-East” context for the identification/exclusion of the “Other” with the “North-South” one. The two factors may have impinged upon the French popular consciousness by replacing the traditional “West-East” context for the identification/exclusion of the “Other” with the “North-South” one. Hence the positive portrayal of the young female Eastern migrant whose “Otherness” does not threaten the community cohesion of the “in-group”. Hence the positive portrayal of the young female Eastern migrant whose “Otherness” does not threaten the community cohesion of the “in-group”.


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