Café de Flore - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Café de Flore Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 26, 2012
'Cafe de Flore'. Love, its dizzying highs and lows, and everything else in between, in this brave, stunning, deeply affecting film.

I am still reeling from this thing, three hours later. What starts as two seemingly separate, simple stories about love, takes a very dark, spiritual turn, and in the process, explores "love" in its many forms.

I say two simple stories in relation to where the story goes, but they aren't simple by any means.

It almost feels wrong to call the raw, incredible compassion shown by Jacqueline to her Down Syndrome son, Laurent "acting". Vanessa Paradis is outstanding as a mother who has given all her love and devoted her life to her son, expecting nothing less than the same in return. The introduction of Vero, and Laurent's "I love her like I love you" sets things unravelling.

The present day story is equally compelling, and thematically parallel in its telling of Carole, a woman like Jacqueline, who has only ever loved one person, but loses him to another, and cannot move on. They both still reminisce, and the way this whole film is edited, switching effortlessly between tones, stories and timeframes, is rather brilliant! Joyful, motherly love to a lost teen romance to the increasingly dark visions of Carole, that consistently unsettled me.

In the short time I've had to process this, I've thought about the ending in a couple of different ways. I didn't know what to make of it at first, then felt the film would have worked just fine without connecting of the two storylines from a narrative perspective, bar Carole's visions.

Then I thought about it again, and what Carole's "sorry" to Antoine meant. This is a Carole that has come to terms with the connection, and what she did as Jacqueline to Laurent and Vero. This Carole has finally let go, understanding that love is sadly not 1:1.

I'd be amiss not to mention the soundtrack. It's probably my favourite of the year to date. The characters, especially Laurent, and his reincarnate, Antoine, are linked via the track 'Cafe de Flore'. Music means a lot to these two, translating naturally to the importance the soundtrack has to the audience.

The experience of being challenged by cinema is one I thoroughly enjoy. This is not easy going, but it's damn rewarding.
Super Reviewer
½ December 14, 2011
Jean-Marc Vallee is one of Canada's most daring and best filmmakers. In fact, Canada's best films tend to come from Quebec - Incendies, The Barbarian Invasions, Polytechnique, and C.R.A.Z.Y to name a few. And up to a certain point, I was ready to add Vallee's newest film, Cafe de Flore to that list. Unfortunately, somewhere around the film's third act, the film just lost me. A very ambitious picture about very complicated people with a great soundtrack to boot, everything that it had going for it fell apart from a lack of direction, or simply a mash-up of strange, existential ideas that all of a sudden get thrown into the story at random.
Following a very discontinuous editing pattern, the narrative follows two parallel stories - one in present day Montreal about a club DJ who has just divorced his high school sweetheart (and mother of his two children), and is now remarrying, the other in 1960s Paris about a mother with a Down syndrome child who struggles to provide that child with the most "normal" upbringing she can manage. The film balances these stories very well, and links them through the film's title, which refers to a song that both main characters love. Traces of Wong Kar Wai's Chungking Express are evident, and the beautifully composed shots juxtaposed with a lounge induced soundtrack make for what is almost a perfect art-house experience.
Yet all of a sudden the third act delves into a David Lynch horror picture, bringing up themes of reincarnation, a contrived drug relapse for characters you didn't even know were addicts in the first place (one was an alcoholic, but the drug part comes out of nowhere), the Parisian mother ends up tying her son to a bed to keep him from seeking out the girl he loves, sleepwalking, an annoyingly cliche dream sequence, and a ending that toots some magical clue to unlocking the picture. It just screams pretentious and shocking for the sake of being shocking. This third act completely undermines the film's touching and intriguing previous two thirds. Some people may love this film for its jarring and strange twists. I just kept asking myself, "where is Vallee going with this?" And wherever the hell we ended up, I just didn't care.
Super Reviewer
½ November 19, 2012
"Cafe de Flore" is an endearing and thought provoking movie that wonders if some things are always meant to be. Jumping back and forth skillfully between two different storylines, including one that is unstuck in time, the movie does a good job of connecting the dots in a figurative sense. But when it comes to literally doing so, it could be said to resolve events too neatly for such complicated emotions.

In a straightforward narrative set in 1960's Paris, Jacqueline(Vanessa Paradis) is left to being a single mother after she refuses to give up her newborn son Laurent(Marin Gerrier) with Down Syndrome and her husband lacks the balls to stand by her. So, she becomes his advocate and knight in shining armor, doing research on not only extending his life, but also giving him a better quality of life by mainstreaming him at school.

At first, Antoine(Kevin Parent), a popular club DJ, and Rose(Evelyne Brochu) seem to be living the perfect life with their daughters in present day Montreal. As one could tell by their still rambunctious sex life and confirmed later, Rose and Antoine have not been together for long. In high school, Antoine met Carole(Helene Florent), sharing a mutual love for music and falling deeply in love with each other. So, it should not come as a surprise that Carole is bitter over the breakup, even as she shares custody of the girls, and suffers from sleepwalking and a questionable taste in books. At the same time, Antoine is a recovering addict, not only having to deal with his own demons, but those he inherited from his father(Michel Dumont), himself an alcoholic.
Super Reviewer
½ July 3, 2012
A fascinating, emotional take on the subtleties of love, "Cafe De Flore" is one of the best efforts to come out of Quebec cinema since Denis Villeneuve's "Incendies". The film follows parallel stories taking place in two different temporal spaces. In 1960s France, young single mother Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis, known as Johnny Depp's now-ex wife) struggles to raise her son with Down Syndrome, while in present day Montreal, club DJ Antoine (Kevin Parent) tries to navigate through a recent divorce, as well as an intense new relationship, and how it effects those closest to him. It's the emotional resonance, particularly of the acting, that binds this movie together. Writer-director Jean-Marc Vallée implores the audience to take a leap of faith in the closing twenty minutes that may seem ridiculous to some but, if you're as invested in the characters as I was, it still provides a massive payoff and ties the two stories up nicely. Beautifully photographed, wonderfully acted (especially from Hélène Florent, portraying Antoine's ex) and featuring a standout soundtrack of recognizable hits, "Flore" is quite the loose-limbed experience that foreign-language enthusiasts should not miss.
Super Reviewer
½ January 6, 2012
Absolutely haunting and brilliant story telling. This one stays with you long after the final credits. One of the most original Canadian scripts that I have seen depicting in a long time.
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2011
Simply a beautiful love story!
½ September 7, 2014
For a truly excellent film by this director, I would recommend C.R.A.Z.Y. While this film had some beautiful scenes, it did not come together well at the end, whereas C.R.A.Z.Y. stays strong throughout and wraps up expertly. Dallas Buyers Club is another good film by this director.
May 22, 2012
I found this more compelling that Vallee's CRAZY, even if it all seems a bit silly in the way it's tied up by the end.
August 22, 2015
Amoral story. It seems that two unrelated stories were strangely linked together.
The love of down children which are supposed to be past life of people in the other story help to justify lustful love affairs. I cannot see how the new love of Antoine can be beautiful because he just thinks about sex with the blond girl all the time. Some movies inspire you and want you to make a good life. This one gives the opposite result. It makes me feel that society nowadays is so disgusting (if people choose to use this kind of reasoning to solve their problems). It really undermines the meaning of marriage and family and exalt lust.
January 8, 2015
An amazing film. I highly recommend this one. Directed by the man who directed 'Dallas Buyers Club' and 'Wild'. Slow beginning but a great piece.
November 10, 2014
Amazing film. The way the editing, cinematography, music, mystery and confusion all play to build on a tale as old as time. A kind of gothic romance. An archetype of love.
October 19, 2014
Another movie where most of the female characters exist solely for the lead male. This movie infuriated me on so many levels. The reincarnation idea was so contrived. Equating a woman who was betrayed by her husband to a controlling mother who can't let her son go and then have that wife apologize to the unfaithful husband is definitely some kind of male fantasy of how things should come together. Is it so hard to believe that the woman would be devastated? Honestly, what kind of connection did Antoine and Rose seem to have throughout the movie. Without her body and all that hair tossing I don't think there was an actual character there. The scene where the older daughter calls her father an asshole: I wanted more of that. The scene where the father calls Antoine out as an asshole in prayer: I wanted more of that. This movie was some kind of cheating husband wish fulfillment. Even the character of Jacqueline, who had so much promise in the beginning, devolved into a 'mommy dearest', a caricature. And the scenes where Carole sees Antoine as a boy. Uggh. Freud is dead! I can say that Vallee created a thoroughly loathsome character in Antoine and I can only hope that the plane did explode in that last scene and that Antoine was on it.
½ June 18, 2014
Café de Flore [Canada, 2012] That's one crazy parallelism. 7.5/10
June 16, 2014
Beautiful, mystical, mythical and true.
½ February 25, 2014
This was a confused film. I read a review by Alex Peterson that takes the filmmaker to task for the lack of coherence between the two narratives and the film's desperate attempt to be "sexy" (the same can be said for the protagonist Antoine, the 40 year old DJ) This is true enough. I also find the "experimentalism" of the film to be cloying. It adds little, but only further muddies the story-line--which is a middle-aged man dumping his wife for a younger woman. The film suggests (though, like the entire film, without confidence) that ultimately the ex-wife must accept her role as mother to her husband and apologize for his leaving her. The second narrative concerning a Parisian mother and her Down Syndrome child carries the emotional weight of this "mother narrative" while the ex-wife makes a connection to this narrative through dreams, drugs and yoga. While I enjoyed watching it I ultimately found it disappointing.
½ January 21, 2014
December 4, 2013
Visually stunning and emotionally powerful-- with just a little bit more, it would have been a perfect film, much like it's spiritual cousin, Mr. Nobody.
½ June 30, 2013
So. I don't quite know yet if I liked this. For about an hour and a half, it's a lot of scattered time jumping with two unrelated stories. One of a woman in 1969 Paris taking care of her Down Syndrome son. The other a man in present day who cheats on his loving wife and basically everyone hates him except his new lover. Then, within the last twenty minutes, you get why they are connected, and essentially what this movie is trying to say. Which, I will say was interesting, but I think it came just a little too late. By the time the big reveal happened, I didn't care about the modern day storyline, and it all just seemed like a big metaphysical excuse to cheat on your wife. Now, all that being said, I really enjoyed the acting. I thought it was well done across the board. The cinematography was also really interesting. In the end, this is interesting, and will spark a few discussions, but I just wish it wasn't so scattered.
September 3, 2013
This film has two plot lines set in different times and places that are fairly standard melodrama. A man leaves his wife and children for a younger woman. A single mother struggles to raise her mentally handicapped son. What do they have to do with each other? The answer is ... unique ... but somehow quite unsatisfying. It didn't feel like it justified sitting through two stories you've seen a few dozen times before.
August 6, 2013
Obviously misunderstood or too emotionally intelligent for most reviewers here, this film is nothing short of a masterpiece, that maneuvers between fear and love with such articulation and precision that it becomes an experience rather than a film.
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