FRANCE, GERMANY, RUSSIA, CANADA • DRAMA • 92 MINS • 2013 • R18+
Anne Weil moves from editing A Castle in Italy (also showing in this year’s Festival) to make her directorial debut with the powerful political thriller Friends from France.
Set in the USSR in 1979, the film follows young engaged couple Carole (singer turned actress Soko) and Jérôme (Jérémie Lippmann) on a vacation to Odessa. Or at least that is their cover story. In fact they are Jewish cousins, on a secret mission to help ‘refuseniks’, Jews persecuted by the Soviet regime for wanting to leave the country. Together they explore the dangerous world of Breshnev’s Russia, filled with many dark undercurrents – a place where it’s dangerous to trust anyone.
More than a glimpse into a troubling and overlooked place and time,
Friends from France
also develops into a love story that takes a detour into unexpected territory. The film’s compelling balancing act between the political and the personal is reminiscent of works by Jane Campion and Andrea Arnold, and is a tense examination of risk and obsession.