Friday, August 29, 2008

Overlooked DVD of the month - BLAME IT ON FIDEL / LA FAUTE A FIDEL

BLAME IT ON FIDEL is a charming, beautifully executed story about a privileged young girl whose parents become Communists. Unlike MRS RATCLIFFE'S REVOLUTION, this film refrains from a cartoon-like depiction of the confrontation between bourgeois morality and dogmatic idealism. Rather, it is an authentic, detailed account of family disruption.

Nina Kervey-Bey is stunning in her depiction of the young girl at the centre of the film. When we meet her she lives in a luxurious house in the Paris of the late 60s. She attends a strict exclusive Catholic school, and delights in teaching her young cousins etiquette. With a child's unerring intuition, she realises that the unexpected arrival of her aunt and cousin from Spain bodes ill. Soon, her father is guilt-tripped into joining the revolution and both parents run off to Chile to support Allende. The parents are rather high-handed about their children. After all, didn't they stay with the nanny alone for two weeks?

Even when they finally return, the kids are merely shoe-horned into their parent's new radical existence. The nice apartment becomes a poky little flat, filled night and day with bearded radicals talking about "Group Solidarity" and unable to answer the little girl's brutally honest questions. We see their delusion and folly through her eyes - literally, because director Julie Gavras shoots the film from the little girl's height. This technique pays off most memorably in a seen where her parents take her on a demo and all she can see are the legs and waists of the crowd, the smoke and the sound of the police cracking down.

It's tempting to think that Julie Gavras had a special ability to bring this material to life because she has infused it with her own memories as a small child in the house of radical - her father, the revolutionary film-director Costa-Gavras. But whatever the reason, this film has what many lack - a feeling of authenticity and a light touch. Though deeply political and moral, it never preaches but allows us to wander through the period and its dilemmas as a small child trying to figure out what to do. It's truly a great film.

BLAME IT ON FIDEL played Rome 2006 and Edinburgh and Sundance 2007. It was released in France in 2006, in the UK, US and Brazil in 2007 and in Japan and Turkey 2008. It is now available on DVD.

No comments:

Post a Comment