AFI FEST 2011: Café De Flore
My Flickchart Ranking: #135
I tend to go into a lot of films at the AFI Fest 2011 Presented by Audi blind, doing little to no research beforehand. What ends up happening is that there’s a fairly even mix of films that impress and films that just don’t do anything for me. Then there are a few that just outright surprise me and end up ranking ridiculously high on my Flickchart. This would be that film.
Café De Flore has two stories happening in parallel, the first about Antoine, a popular Montreal DJ struggling with a recent divorce. Despite ruining the lives of his family with the separation he’s the happiest he’s ever been in his life. Happening in tandem to this is the story of Jacqueline, a single mother in 1960s Paris taking care of her special-needs son. Both stories are connected by the song Café De Flore and perhaps much more.
The music in this film deserves first mention since it’s so prevalent to the story. Jean-Marc Vallée marries pop music to his film with ease, the likes of which we’ve come to see from Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino. The remix to the title song is brilliant, not to mention catchy. I’ll be minding my own business and suddenly hear that song playing out in my head.
Hand-in-hand with the music is the editing, which is exceptional here. The parallel stories switch out at just the right moments and never once distract from the theme of the film. As the mystery unravels of how the two stories are connected, the editing gets more frenetic and all the more engaging. I remember being very aware of the editing at various points in the film, and while that can sometimes be construed as a critique here it is praise.
Let’s not overlook the acting here, which is also impressive. I’m particularly charmed by the young boy who plays Jacqueline’s son. Both character and actor have Down’s Syndrome, and it’s interesting to see the nuances that that creates for the character. The others turn in solid performances as well, but it’s his that stands out the most to me.
There’s a lot here to like, from the acting to the music selection and the editing. I’ve got it ranked pretty high on my list for all those reasons and more. It’s a great film and I’m already finding myself wishing I could see it again. Perhaps it will get some more play here in Los Angeles at some point, maybe getting a rep screening somewhere or getting a small theatrical run. If this plays near you, go see it. I highly recommend the experience.