Cafe de flore

Overview

Two stories of love and responsibility separated by four decades have a common link in this drama from writer and director Jean-Marc Vallee. In 2011, Antoine Kevin Parent has a life most people would envy -- he's a successful club DJ living in Montreal with an international following, he has a beautiful girlfriend Rose Evelyne Brochu, and is raising two healthy daughters. However, Rose is not Antoine's first love, and he's still infatuated with his ex-wife Carole Helene Florent, the mother of his children. Carole...
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Overview

Two stories of love and responsibility separated by four decades have a common link in this drama from writer and director Jean-Marc Vallee. In 2011, Antoine Kevin Parent has a life most people would envy -- he's a successful club DJ living in Montreal with an international following, he has a beautiful girlfriend Rose Evelyne Brochu, and is raising two healthy daughters. However, Rose is not Antoine's first love, and he's still infatuated with his ex-wife Carole Helene Florent, the mother of his children. Carole hopes he'll someday return to her, though despite his feelings there's little evidence to suggest he will. In 1969, Jacqueline Vanessa Paradis is a single mother who is raising a seven-year-old son Laurent Marin Gerrier. Laurent was born with Down Syndrome, and is not expected to live past 25; Jacqueline is determined to do whatever she can for her boy during the time he has, but as the stress of these demands take their toll, we learn that she and Carole share a special connection. Named for a song beloved by both Antoine and Laurent, Café de flore was an official selection at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée's Café de Flore is destined to go down as one of the most polarizing movies to reach U.S. shores in quite some time. It's big, it's bombastic, it takes excursions into fantasy, it goes for broke emotionally, it's so visually overwhelming that it would make Nicolas Roeg blush, and Vallée interpolates hallucinatory dream sequences, trippy cross-cutting, and portentous, perhaps impenetrable symbols. Café will also provide additional evidence for anyone out to disprove aesthetic consistency in Quebecois cinema: In lieu of the stylistic economy of recent movies from the province such as Nuit #1 and Vital Signs, we actually get something closer to French director Gaspar Noé's mind-bender Enter the Void or Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. Yet one also cannot fault Vallée for this reason: The movie's cinematographic kinesthesia seems ideally paired with its subject and themes, and it is difficult to envision this story taking flight given any other form. Café isn't a perfect motion picture -- it suffers from one crippling tonal miscalculation that restrains it from achieving full sway. But it is fascinating and never boring, and -- like 2005's C.R.A.Z.Y. -- it affirms Vallée as a craftsperson of great technical and visual prowess and a raconteur of startling imagination and narrative invention. Full disclosure: The emotional impact of this film depends on one major surprise. Those without any knowledge of the movie who plan to see it are strongly advised to skip the remainder of this review; others who wish to read on do so at their own risk. We're initially handed two seemingly unrelated stories, set more than forty years apart. One takes place in Paris circa 1969, where hairdresser Jacqueline Vanessa Paradis single-handedly raises her little boy, Laurent Marin Gerrier -- a child with Down syndrome. Jacqueline is an obstreperous, demonstrative, occasionally foul-mouthed young woman, but she loves her son ardently, and refuses to accept the limitations that society places on him. Seven-year-old Laurent meets and forms an instant emotional attachment to Véro Alice Dubois, a little girl his age who also has Down syndrome -- but Jacqueline questions the appropriateness of the relationship. The children, however, throw tantrums and physically protest whenever adults try to separate them -- and Véro's parents encourage Jacqueline not to intervene. In the second story, set in 2011, Kevin Parent plays Antoine, a Montreal DJ living with his young daughters and Rose Evelyne Brochu, a lover he adores. Good-looking, in perfect health, and financially well-off doing a job he loves, Antoine epitomizes happiness and self-actualization. A wrinkle exists in this tale, however, in the form of Carole Hélène Florent, Antoine's ex-wife; the two met as teenage sweethearts, were inseparable for years and had two children together, but Antoine left one woman for another and in the process, emotionally damaged Carole, who has long believed that Antoine is her soul mate and still yearns for him. The children fail to comprehend their father's decision and grow irate at him. For much of the running time, we segue back-and-forth between the two subplots, and instinctively sense that a connection exists between them, perhaps one along the lines of Denis Villeneuve's Incendies. This is and isn't true: Narratively, Vallée uses the same sort of last-second denouement reveal that Villeneuve did, though the revelation in Café asks us to read more deeply into the subtext than Villeneuve did. It will likely be the most divisive element of the movie for the extremity of the twist, but Vallée cannot be criticized for it, because the movie never defies the logical fabric that it sets up from the outset. As fabulous as that final narrative leap is, we do get an implicit disclosure of its hidden truths throughout the movie -- both in the hallucinatory presentation that pervades so many of the scenes manifested most pointedly in the parallel editing and in a quick glimpse of some expository details in Carole's bedroom during one critical scene. Only those who are truly observant, and willing to invest in the movie the energy, care and attention that it demands, will catch this and be more prepared for the final leap. But that twist will play more smoothly for them as a result. This is all exhilarating to experience, but as mentioned earlier, the picture unfortunately buckles beneath the weight of a key error in judgment on Vallée's part. This lies in the mishandled tone of the Antoine-Rose-Carole story. As played by the slick Parent whose evocation here is about as warm as Michael Fassbender's emotionally damaged character in Shame Antoine unintentionally comes across as callow and selfish -- we're evidently supposed to care about him, and to empathize with his decision to leave Carole for Rose -- but he isn't an average, relatable guy. He's a slightly egotistical übermensch sans a trace of humility, and his attainment of "everything" life can offer guarantees his aloofness from us at the outset. Vallée missteps even more gravely in his failure to more clearly delineate the emotional differences between the two adult romances. The depiction of the Carole-Antoine history paints the separated husband and wife as unreserved soul mates, an idea that the movie eventually sets out to disprove. And even if we initially share Carole's deluded perspective about her relationship with her ex-husband, it isn't at all fair for us to also be confined to that impression for 120 minutes. For the Antoine-Rose-Carole sub-story to play effectively, we need a godlike vantage point that reveals to us, even as Carole remains in the dark, the fact that Rose's spiritual compatibility with Antoine far supersedes her own. Instead, the two romantic relationships seem almost indistinguishable -- a murkiness further complicated by the fact that, in an injurious decision that temporarily throws the movie way off the rails, Vallée interpolates two erotic underwater sequences featuring Antoine in the same nude, intertwined pose with each woman. We're made to feel that the women are interchangeable, and worse, that Antoine is something of womanizer, a user who has brought each lover into this same erotic scene. All of this restrains the subplot from the emotional kayo that it could have delivered, the sort that exists from the outset in the Jacqueline-Laurent tale. As indicated, though, this gaffe occurs amid such skill in other aspects of the film that one can forgive the writer-director for his one key lapse. Like Terrence Malick, or Francis Ford Coppola in his 2009 movie Tetro, Vallée revels in narrative wizardry on such a level that he instills the medium itself with the sort of scope and dimension usually found in huge, sprawling novels, and a degree of cinematographic experimentation that feels refreshing. The movie is like a giant, well-oiled machine that hurtles us effortlessly back and forth across forty years, and then suddenly unveils theretofore hidden truths about the characters and the dual intertwined stories that occupy center stage. Reflecting on this picture, you can marvel at the overwhelming journey that it's taken you on, even if some of the key stops along the way failed to reach their full potential.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/14/2014
  • UPC: 748252866400
  • Original Release: 2011
  • Source: Adopt Films
  • Presentation: Color / Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Language: Français
  • Time: 2:00:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 14,758

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Vanessa Paradis Jacqueline
Kevin Parent Antoine
Helene Florent Carole
Evelyne Brochu Rose
Marin Gerrier Laurent
Alice Dubois Véronique
Evelyne De La Cheneliere Amélie
Michel Dumont Julien Godin
Linda Smith Louise Godin
Joanny Corbeil-Picher Juliette
Rosalie Fortier Angéline
Michel Laperriere Psychologist
Caroline Bal Véronique's Mother
Nicolas Marié Véronique's Father
Pascal Elso Paul
Jérôme Kircher Louis
Claire Vernet Mrs. Labelle
Manon Balthazard School Teacher
Émile Vallée Antoine (14 years old)
Chanel Fontaine Carole (14 years old)
Valérie Beaugrand-Champagne Medium
Technical Credits
Jean-Marc Vallée Director, Co-producer, Editor, Screenwriter
Emmanuelle Beaugrand-Champagne Casting
Nathalie Boutrie Casting
Nicolas Coppermann Co-producer
Marc Cote Special Effects
Pierre Cottereau Cinematographer
Constance Demontoy Casting
Pierre Even Producer
Christiane Fattori Makeup
Vanessa Fourgeaud Co-producer
Ginnette Magny Costumes/Costume Designer
Frederic Marin Makeup
Matthew Herbert & Gaspanic Songwriter
Jean Minondeau Sound/Sound Designer
Martin Pinsonnault Sound/Sound Designer
Marie-Claude Poulin Producer
Jean-Yves Robin Co-producer
Sylvain Theroux Special Effects
Patrice Vermette Art Director, Production Designer
Emmanuelle Youchnovski Costumes/Costume Designer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Café de Flore
1. Chapter 1 [10:00]
2. Chapter 2 [10:00]
3. Chapter 3 [10:00]
4. Chapter 4 [10:00]
5. Chapter 5 [9:59]
6. Chapter 6 [10:00]
7. Chapter 7 [2:01]
8. Chapter 8 [7:58]
9. Chapter 9 [10:00]
10. Chapter 10 [10:00]
11. Chapter 11 [10:00]
12. Chapter 12 [10:00]
13. Chapter 13 [10:00]
14. Chapter 14 [:29]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Café de Flore
   Play Feature
   Café de Flore: Chapters
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