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Serge Bozon, 2007
France | French | Format: 35mm | 102 minutes
In the fall of 1917, as World War I rages, a lovelorn soldier’s wife (the excellent Sylvie Testud) disguises herself as a man and sets off for the front in search of her missing husband. Along the way, she meets up with a company of soldiers under the command of a gruff lieutenant (Pascal Greggory), who reluctantly allows Camille to join their ranks. From time to time, these surprisingly sensitive, introspective men break out an assortment of homemade instruments and perform original songs written for the film by Benjamin Esdraffo and the artist known as Fugu, styled after the American “sunshine pop” of The Beach Boys and The Mamas and the Papas. Winner of France’s prestigious Prix Jean Vigo (presented annually to a young filmmaker of exceptional promise), Bozon’s unclassifiable hybrid of war movie and movie musical is truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
“One of the strangest and most original war movies I’ve seen.”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“Mr. Bozon never explains his film’s evocative title—though, like all countries, France is as much a state of mind as a geographical place—nor why he includes these lovely, incongruent yet perfect songs…Yet while the tunes jolt you out of the war movie that Mr. Bozon skillfully leads you into, they are finally no stranger than those sung by Fred Astaire when spoken words prove inadequate. In this dark fairy tale, filled with feeling and cinematic allusions—the soldiers float down a river like the runaway children in The Night of the Hunter—it is the indelible image of lonely and lost men that speaks the loudest.”
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times