Will we always have French movies? The nation has protected its cultural patrimony through regulations and quotas even after joining the European Union.
Although President Emmanuel Macron is making noises about busting unions and eliminating regulations, the industry still manages to produce as many as 200 films a year. Some are international co-productions, but it’s the local stuff that one wants to linger on, from the obstinate micro-budgeted black-and-white pinings for pining, for a few examples, from sixty-nine-year-old Philippe Garrel to the tactile mysteries of existence by seventy-one-year-old Claire Denis (“Beau Travail,” “35 Shots of Rum”) to the superbes folies of fifty-six-year-old Leos Carax (“Lovers on the Bridge”). What of the next generation? (And the next?)
“Footnotes” (Sur quel pied danser), co-written and co-directed by Paul Calori (thirty-nine) and Kostia Testut (thirty-seven) is modest tonic, a bright and agreeable musical drawing on the boldly colored palette of countryman Jacques Demy and American filmmakers like Stanley Donen. Their subdued, low-to-the-ground approach nods to cinephilia past, but places its heroine, Julie, directly into the daily muck of the economy of modern France, a young woman who lives out of her backpack until gaining a temporary position at a factory making luxury women’s shoes.
Management moves in to close the place, and Julie and her fellow workers have to decide whether to strike. (Shades of Donen and George Abbott’s “The Pajama Game”!) It’s a sweet daydream of being allowed dignity and respect as workers, both on the screen and in its heart. With Pauline Etienne, Olivier Chantreau, François Morel, Loïc Corbery, Julie Victor. 85m. (Ray Pride)
“Footnotes” opens Friday, September 1 at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.