REVIEW: Rumba Therapy – an absent Dad tries to get to know his daughter through dance classes

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Rumba Therapy (Rumba La Vie) is a film written, directed and starring Franck Dubosc which is part of the 2022 Alliance Française French Film Festival.

Rumba Therapy

Franck Dubosc plays Tony, a school bus driver who has no friends or partner. A medical scare sees him decide to get to know his daughter, Maria (Louna Espinosa in her first feature film role), some 20 years after he left her and her mother. But how do you walk into her life without just showing up and saying “hi, I’m the Dad that walked out on you and your Mum when you were little”.

 

Together with caring co-worker Gilles (Jean-Pierre Darroussin who you may recognise as Henri Duflot from the wonderful series, The Bureau) and Fanny (Marie-Philomène Nga who also stars in OSS 117: From Africa with Love also showing at this year’s AFFFF, and who you may have seen in The African Doctor (Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont)), his African neighbour, Franck puts together a plan to meet Maria, get to know her and win her over – he will enrol in her dance classes under a pseudonym. Tony has no clue about the arts nor about African culture assuming that the F. initial on his neighbour’s buzzer must be for Fatou and that all Africans know the Congolese Rumba. Gilles gives plenty of hints that he may prefer men to women, despite being married to a woman, but these seem to go way over Tony’s head.

 

What ensues in Rumba Therapy is a comedic and touching tale of a man desperate to repair the wrongs of the past and to make things right before time runs out. There are plenty of absurd comedic moments, and awkward mistakes made. A particularly honest, deadpan Doctor (Michel Houellebecq who you may recall from Delete History (Effacer l’historique) at last year’s AFFFF) also adds to the absurdity of it all.

Rumba La Vie/ Rumba Therapy

The action takes place in the department of Oise where Franck works and the dance studio in Paris where Maria runs classes. Glimpses of the countryside are contrasted with the wooden floors of, and the red sign spelling out DANSE outside of, Maria’s dance studio.

 

As with Franck Dubosc’s previous AFFFF film, Rolling to you (Tout le monde debout), in Rumba Therapy, Dubosc again uses comedy to bring a lighter quality to his stories of reinvention or seeking change in life. Dubosc is great at his brand of comedy and this film is no different to the style we’ve come to expect from him. The cast is wonderful with each of them bringing something unique to the film. We’d like to see more of Louna Espinosa who was great as daughter Maria and will be watching her career with interest. Jean-Pierre Darroussin is always a joy to watch and it was a nice contrast to see him in this lighter role than The Bureau we’ve come to know him for.

Rumba La Vie

Rumba Therapy is another film being shown at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2022 in Australia well before its release in France. It was scheduled for a January 2022 release but the omicron wave and uncertainty about cinema attendances saw it pushed to a French Summer release. The film has faced many delays with the initial lockdown of early 2020 putting location scouting and filming on hold until September 2020. The French August release date is the second change of date from the initial planned release of 15 December 2021.

4 CROISSANTS

Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of the Alliance Française French Film Festival.

 

READ OUR REVIEWS OF OTHER FILMS AT THE ALLIANCE FRANCAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL

REVIEW: A Tale of Love and Desire: an exploration of religious and gender expectations in Paris

REVIEW: Fly Me Away – a predictable feel-good film

REVIEW: Goliath: Dirty tactics, word play, and misinformation abound

REVIEW: Love Songs for Tough Guys: a comedy about ageing gang members getting in touch with their softer sides

REVIEW: Mali Twist is a story of impossible love in revolutionary Mali

REVIEW: Men on the verge of a nervous breakdown is a comedy about feeling better through unconventional methods

REVIEW: OSS 117: From Africa with Love – Jean Dujardin and Pierre Niney on screen together is a delight

REVIEW: Paul W.R’s Last Journey: an apocalyptic, vibrant sci-fi fantasy

REVIEW: Paris 13th District – a black and white story of love, lust and mistaken identity in current day Paris

REVIEW: The Braves: a film about the strength of friendship

 

KEY INFO FOR ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL 2022

WHAT: Alliance Française French Film Festival 2022

WHERE AND WHEN: The festival has concluded in all cities except for Adelaide where it continues until 26 April.

HOW: Discover the AFFFF 2022 programme here.

 

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REVIEW: Goliath: Dirty tactics, word play, and misinformation abound

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Goliath, directed by Frédéric Tellier, made its world premiere in Sydney at the Alliance Française French Film Festival, even before it was released in French cinemas a week or so later, on 9 March 2022.

Goliath

Inspired by, but not strictly based on, a true story, Goliath is a film about residents of a rural town fighting a mega agricultural manufacturer of a pesticide they believe is responsible for cancers and deaths among their own. Enter Patrick (Giles Lellouche, also showing in Farewell, Mr. Haffmann at AFFFF 2022), a lawyer fighting to prove not only the link but that the company knows their product is carcinogenic. It’s an uphill battle as lobbyists, such as Matthias (Pierre Niney, also in OSS 117: From Africa with Love in this year’s AFFFF and Black Box from AFFFF 2021), engage in dirty tactics, cleverly worded speeches and campaigns of misinformation. Director Frédéric Tellier has worked with Pierre Niney before on previous AFFFF film Through the Fire (Sauver ou Périr).

 

A desperate and drastic act by one of the group drives France (Emmanuelle Bercot, Happy Birthday, AFFFF20), a sports teacher by day and factory worker by night, to take action. She’s personally affected as she sees her partner Zef’s lymphoma return and points to pesticide Tetrazine as the cause.

 

Bubbling along in the background is agricultural company PhytoSanis’ concern that its licence to sell its product won’t be renewed in the coming months. Lobbyists engage heavily in misinformation campaigns – this product is far less dangerous than the lollies you give your child and yet they’re not banned – and schmoozing important officials in their attempt to get the vote across the line.

Goliath is not a courtroom David and Goliath drama but a personal one. The battle takes place in the village where France lives and also for Patrick, trying to find someone willing to speak or information to prove that the product is carcinogenic finds himself increasingly under threat by a company that is determined to keep its product on the market.

 

Images of France’s family dealing with the fallout of the pesticide are juxtaposed with images of lobbyist Patrick’s happy family. His heavily pregnant partner stands holding her belly as he talks to her about the difficulties and increasing pressure he is experiencing at work in the lead-up to the European Commission vote to renew or disapprove a new licence to the agricultural company.

 

Both male leads in Goliath were nominated for best actor at the César Awards and deservingly so. Pierre Niney played lobbyist Matthias so well that I despised him from very early on. Giles Lellouche for his role as Patrick, the criminal lawyer turned environmental lawyer. Unfortunately, neither Niney nor Lellouche won the César for Best Actor. Ultimately, it went to Benoît Magimel for Peaceful (another film showing at the AFFFF 2022).

Goliath

While not nominated for a César for Goliath, Emmanuelle Bercot also deserves mention as the desperate France, willing to do anything to see the company made responsible.

 

Goliath is a well-written and superbly acted film which sheds light on the unethical, dirty tactics of lobbyists while at the same time highlighting the strength and determination of others.

4 CROISSANTS

Matilda Marseillaise was given access to a digital screener of this film for this review.

 

Find out when Goliath is showing in your city, via this link

 

READ OUR REVIEWS OF OTHER FILMS AT THE ALLIANCE FRANCAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL

REVIEW: Fly Me Away – a predictable feel-good film

REVIEW: OSS 117: From Africa with Love – Jean Dujardin and Pierre Niney on screen together is a delight

REVIEW: The Braves: a film about the strength of friendship

REVIEW: Paul W.R’s Last Journey: an apocalyptic, vibrant sci-fi fantasy

Love Songs for Tough Guys: a comedy about ageing gang members getting in touch with their softer sides

A Tale of Love and Desire: an exploration of religious and gender expectations in Paris

 

KEY INFO FOR ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL 2022

WHAT: Alliance Française French Film Festival

WHERE AND WHEN:

  • Adelaide: 24thMarch to 24th April (Encore screenings: 25th to 26th April)
  • Brisbane: 16thMarch to 13th April (Encore screenings: 14th to 18th April)
  • Byron Bay: 30thMarch to 14th April (Encore screenings: 15th to 16th April)
  • Hobart: 9thto 20th March
  • Canberra: 2nd March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Melbourne: 3rd March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Parramatta: 7thto 10th April
  • Perth: 9th March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Sydney: 1stMarch to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)

HOW: Discover the AFFFF 2022 programme here.

 

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