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Alliance Française French Film Festival

From 'The Three Musketeers' to the latest film by Michel Gondry, this year's 41-movie lineup isn't short on highlights. 
By Sarah Ward
February 07, 2024
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By Sarah Ward
February 07, 2024
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2024 marks two decades since one of the best blends of romance, comedy, drama and sci-fi of the 21st century reached screens in the form of Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. How should you celebrate that fact? Rewatching the movie always, and also checking out the French filmmaker's latest feature at Australia's annual Alliance Française French Film Festival. In his first movie since 2015, the director draws from his own experience in semi-autobiographical comedy The Book of Solutions — one of the AFFFF program's clear must-sees.

French film fans, rejoice — the lineup goes on from there, with 41 titles on offer overall. The festival will run across March and April in its 35th year, giving Melbourne a month of Gallic movies from Wednesday, March 6–Tuesday, April 2 at Palace Como, Kino Cinema, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, Pentridge Cinema, The Astor Theatre and Palace Penny Lane.

Opening night's The Three Musketeers: D'Artagnan, its second part The Three Musketeers: Milady and the Catherine Deneuve (The Truth)-led The President's Wife are just the beginning. Also on the bill: the Juliette Binoche (The Staircase)-starring The Taste of Things, futuristic The Animal Kingdom, regal scandal-focused Jeanne Du Barry, legal drama All Your Faces and Laure Calamy (The Origin of Evil) in Iris and the Men as well.

Last Summer is new from iconic director Catherine Breillat (Abuse of Weakness), and about a woman and her teenage stepson. Not one but two movies starring the great Isabelle Huppert (The Crime Is Mine) are on the roster, with The Sitting Duck casting her as IRL whistleblower Maureen Kearney and Sidonie in Japan about a love triangle that includes a ghost. And Second Round gets the closing-night spot, hailing from Albert Duponte (Bye Bye Morons), and taking aim at politics and the media.

Attendees can also check out A Difficult Year, from The Intouchables' Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, and with Noémie Merlant (The Innocent) and Mathieu Amalric (The French Dispatch) among the cast — plus rom-com Mr Blake at Your Service!, with author Gilles Legardinier turning director to adapt his own book, and John Malkovich (Billions) and Fanny Ardant (Well Done!) starring. Historical drama Bonnard, Pierre & Marthe is about the painter (Vincent Macaigne, Irma Vep) and his wife (Cécile de France, The Swarm), while Out of Season has Guillaume Canet (Breaking Point) and Alba Rohrwacher (La Chimera) play ex-lovers.

Like The Book of Solutions, The Taste of Things, The Animal Kingdom and romantic drama Along Came Love, both Àma Gloria and Rosalie grace the program after debuting at Cannes 2023. The first focuses on a girl and her nanny, while the second tells of a real historical figure who was born with hair covering her face and body.

Other options include Take a Chance on Me, as starring French pop singer Louane Emera; fellow comedy A Chance to Win, where two rival villages face off in rugby; the swashbuckling The Edge of the Blade; the world premiere of King of My Castle, from the writers of Welcome to the Sticks; and the animated Nina and the Secret of the Hedgehog, with Audrey Tautou (The Jesus Rolls) among the voices.

The fest is also giving classic Children of Paradise from 1945 a new big-screen celebration, taking viewers back to the 1800s with its storyline, as well as into Paris' theatre scene — because looking at France's great films from year gone by is another way to showcase the country's cinema industry and its impact.

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