Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Elza

There is matchless beauty here in both the actors and the setting, but this study of family and race needed a surer auteurial hand.

Nov 29, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1367928-Elza_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Parisian grad student Elza (Stana Roumillac) is a girl on a mission, namely to reconnect with her father, Désiré (Vincent Bryd Le Sage), a powerful tycoon who abandoned her and her mother (writer-director Mariette Monpierre) when she was child. She travels to her birthplace, the island of Guadaloupe, discovers his whereabouts living with his new family and, lying about her identity, is hired in his home as nanny to his little granddaughter, Caroline (Eva Constant).

Monpierre loosely based her debut feature film on her own search for her parent, and Elza is an undeniably deeply heartfelt work, filled as well with a love for the sensual beauty of Guadaloupe and its people. She offers many small, telling scenes which have a feminine authenticity and emotional truth, while not stinting on the kind of colonial racism which engenders comments like Désiré’s “With kinky hair like yours, you could never be my daughter.”

But Monpierre has a surfeit of subplots here, ranging from the local workers’ rather unconvincing uprising against Désiré, which briefly sees Caroline kidnapped, to the soap opera-like machinations of Elza’s new, utterly dysfunctional family. Caroline’s seedy father is, Just like Désiré, who has fathered numerous illegitimate children, Caroline’s seedy dad is one horny goat; stuck with a coldly unloving wife, he puts the moves on Elza. The mordantly humorous relationship the two manage to effect actually becomes the most interesting, original part of the film.

Roumillac is appealing, but her character isn’t developed enough, and she emerges as a lovely cipher. There are also too many moments which feel falsely histrionic, as when Elza leaps from her taxi, fully clothed, into the beautiful ocean upon her return to her homeland. Monpierre’s control over all the disparate strains of her screenplay is also shaky, and her denouement is both flat and too pat.


Film Review: Elza

There is matchless beauty here in both the actors and the setting, but this study of family and race needed a surer auteurial hand.

Nov 29, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1367928-Elza_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Parisian grad student Elza (Stana Roumillac) is a girl on a mission, namely to reconnect with her father, Désiré (Vincent Bryd Le Sage), a powerful tycoon who abandoned her and her mother (writer-director Mariette Monpierre) when she was child. She travels to her birthplace, the island of Guadaloupe, discovers his whereabouts living with his new family and, lying about her identity, is hired in his home as nanny to his little granddaughter, Caroline (Eva Constant).

Monpierre loosely based her debut feature film on her own search for her parent, and Elza is an undeniably deeply heartfelt work, filled as well with a love for the sensual beauty of Guadaloupe and its people. She offers many small, telling scenes which have a feminine authenticity and emotional truth, while not stinting on the kind of colonial racism which engenders comments like Désiré’s “With kinky hair like yours, you could never be my daughter.”

But Monpierre has a surfeit of subplots here, ranging from the local workers’ rather unconvincing uprising against Désiré, which briefly sees Caroline kidnapped, to the soap opera-like machinations of Elza’s new, utterly dysfunctional family. Caroline’s seedy father is, Just like Désiré, who has fathered numerous illegitimate children, Caroline’s seedy dad is one horny goat; stuck with a coldly unloving wife, he puts the moves on Elza. The mordantly humorous relationship the two manage to effect actually becomes the most interesting, original part of the film.

Roumillac is appealing, but her character isn’t developed enough, and she emerges as a lovely cipher. There are also too many moments which feel falsely histrionic, as when Elza leaps from her taxi, fully clothed, into the beautiful ocean upon her return to her homeland. Monpierre’s control over all the disparate strains of her screenplay is also shaky, and her denouement is both flat and too pat.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

War Story
Film Review: War Story

Infuriatingly slow, enervating and basically empty contemplation of war's impact, and a waste of the formidable talent of a gallant Catherine Keener. More »

Happy Christmas
Film Review: Happy Christmas

Joe Swanberg's latest feature is a collection of strong individual scenes and performances that never quite finds its statement of purpose. More »

Very Good Girls
Film Review: Very Good Girls

More of a meandering, misguided path than a road to hell, Naomi Foner’s directing debut, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as 18-year-old BFFs, is similarly filled with good intentions. More »

The Kill Team
Film Review: The Kill Team

Marine Adam Winfield goes on trial in a case in which U.S. soldiers murdered innocent Afghanis. Strong subject marred by poor narrative choices. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Get On Up
Film Review: Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman is sensational in this multi-faceted portrait of troubled, pioneering soul-music giant James Brown. More »

Guardians of the Galaxy review
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

With Marvel’s backing, cult filmmaker James Gunn blasts off for the stars and takes audiences along for a wild, funny ride. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here