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Awesome: 46.15%
Worth A Look53.85%
Average: 0%
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Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Dreamlife Of Angels, The
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Skillfully written!"
4 stars

What starts out as a simplistic story of a young, homeless girl named Isa (Élodie Bouchez), who is searching for warmth, cover and money, expands itself to an infinitely elaborate story containing subplots and symbolism that fits like a glove on life. It doesn't need to stretch for falsenesses in its tale because they fit so perfectly like the glove on life.

Isa makes cards by using a razor to cut pictures out and a gluestick to paste them onto construction paper. She then walks around busy squares and centres trying to sell the cards to passersby for 10-20 francs. Her life is simple but harsh. Soon she finds work at a sweat-shop where women slave away at sewing machines. Isa meets Marie (Natacha Régnier), a reserved but similarly gentle woman. Isa has no place to stay at the end of the night and Marie offers to put her up. Marie lives in a flat somewhere in France, but the place isn't hers; it belongs to a mother and daughter who were in a car accident sometime ago, and Marie was allowed to live there to look after the place. Marie and Isa click well with each other, and when Isa is fired, Marie quits with her. They both decide to continue living with each other because they are good company and make living more bearable for each other. Some of the happenings that they encounter along the way include:

a) Meeting some club bouncers. The girls aren't allowed in, but the 2 men's and 2 women's aggressive personalities match up well. The relationships are all platonic and are just to superficially please one another.

b) Isa discovers the daughter of the household's diary and is intrigued by what she learns about her. Out of sorrow, or a need for catharsis maybe, Isa decides to visit the girl, who is in a coma-state at the hospital, with hopes of helping her. Maybe she feels it's due respect for staying at her flat; she begins to read to the girl from her diary, and then she begins to record her observations, feelings, and any personal progress along the way.

c) Marie meets Chriss (Grégoire Colin), a rich, stuck up womanizer who owns the club her quasi-boyfriend/bouncer works at -- the same one she couldn't get into. At first their relationship is nothing but some pent-up sex, which she also gets from the bouncer for a while too, but her hate towards Chriss' sense of superiority soon becomes transformed into a believed love. She falls head over heels -- no pun intended -- for him, but she grows extremely frustrated with him when he doesn't return the same kind of love.

The screenplay was done by Erick Zonca and Roger Bohbot, and the film was directed by Zonca. What I liked most about this movie was its ability not to blow things out of proportion. When there was a fight or an argument, it came off as true to life. The story played out naturally without the addition of any elements of plot devices or any sentimentalizing by the director. To me, this film wouldn't qualify as being totally tragic, but it had elements of tragedy throughout. One of the most entertaining and satisfactory elements of "The Dreamlife of Angels" was the subplot between the comatose girl and Isa. It wasn't milked or designed for pathos, but it was sensual in a way, more touching than you might think. The motivation for Isa's visits fit perfectly and were never brought to the extreme.

At the start of the movie, you feel kind of neutral towards the two protagonists because you know nothing about them. As time progresses, you see that both are pretty decent human beings. I found myself leaning towards Isa more at first, then equally between the two, and then towards Marie. But then you began to see the foreshadowing of Marie's demise, and even though you, or at least I, still liked Marie and hoped for the best, eventually I found myself back with Isa. She wanted peace between the two just like we did, and like us, she could see how Marie was closing herself off and losing touch with everything around her. Simply, "The Dreamlife of Angels" (or in French form: "La Vie Rêvée des Anges") plays out beautifully and wonderfully. Contradictory to its title, this is no dream life, and it's certainly not one for an angel. It's a gritty, true-to-life drama, and its believability and actuality give it a strong impact.

Bouchez is wonderfully taut and wound as Isa. She's able to control and convey her emotions on screen with a formal believability. Bouchez is a pretty woman, but not overly gorgeous or outright ugly; what we see is the way you would mentally imagine the character of Isa. The same stands for Régnier, who is both simple and beautiful at the same time. Her presence is quiet and subdued, but similarly, Régnier is very potent in her role.

"The Dreamlife of Angels" is a cinematic beauty to behold. It's flawed in certain aspects (a little overlong, and a little more sex wouldn't have hurt, unlike that of the other French movie "Romance"), but the tale is absorbing, and you really do experience these girls' lives for two hours. And yeah, life can be tough.

Final Verdict: B+

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originally posted: 11/28/99 15:59:17
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User Comments

3/02/05 Scptt Worth watching. Interesting story. 4 stars
7/03/02 The Bomb 69 strong performances, a little too long but still... 4 stars
10/21/01 Reini Urban The highpoint of the new french nouvelle vague so far. Predictable and arguable content but 5 stars
8/08/00 Harriett A. Ferrell I thought about it for days afterward 5 stars
6/25/00 Marie unforgettable movie, touched all parts of my psyche 5 stars
6/02/00 Kevin Elodie Bouchez gives the best performance of 99...this film is amazing 5 stars
9/02/99 christi this is one of my all-time favorites!!! 5 stars
6/18/99 sam mckewon brilliant, stunning. moving. An incredible drama 5 stars
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  02-Apr-1999 (NC-17)


  25-Mar-1999 (MA)

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