Philippe Lioret’s Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas aka Don’t Worry, I’m Fine (2006)

What if the person you feel closest to would disappear one day without leaving a note? Just like that, without real reason, without explanation. Would you survive to be ripped apart like this?

When Lili returns home from a summer camp and hears that her twin brother has disappeared, she is devastated.  Lili cannot believe it. Her parents tell her that he had a fight with their father and left in anger, just taking his guitar.

Lili cannot understand. He would never leave like this, not call her, not wait for her. She breaks into pieces, doesn’t eat anymore, let’s herself die until she is finally brought to a psychiatric hospital. But that doesn’t help, it is making it even worse. Only when her brother finally sends a post card, telling her not to worry and that he is fine and travelling from one town to the next, she slowly returns to life.

Bookaroundthercorner reviewed the novel by Olivier Adam (not yet translated) on which the movie Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas is based and mentioned that the movie was as good as the novel. After having read what she wrote I had to see it.

It isn’t easy to write about this movie without spoiling it. Let me just tell you that this must be one of the most moving and touching movies I have ever seen. It is heartbreakingly sad and the ending is not at all what you would expect. It is very well acted. The music is perfect and pulls your heartstrings. It is sad and at the same time it looks at life in a middle class French family, the boredom and the routine but also the dreams hidden under the surface, the clumsy way of communicating and the incredible choices everybody makes. This is a movie that will make you question yourself. What would you have done, how would you have acted and reacted. Each and every one of the four main characters at the core of the story must make decisions, decide whether or not to speak.

Like in most French movies there is also a love story and it is also very touching. As sad as it is, there is a lot of beauty in this movie.

I have to admit that this movie got me all teary eyed which is something that doesn’t happen very often.

The title song of the film has been composed by the French duo AaRON here is their website. In the movie it is said to have been composed by Lili’s bother.

Mélanie Laurent, as Lili, is a really good and very cute actress and also Kad Merad as the father is very convincig. This is the second time I have seen Julien Boisselier in a week (the last time in Les femmes de l’ombre that I didn’t like) and both times I found him very good..

Martin Provost’s Séraphine (2008) The Movie and the Woman Behind it

I come from a family of painters. Everything related to painting has always fascinated me. I remember the smell of oil paint from my childhood. Someone was always fiddling around with paint and turpentine, heavy cigarette smoke in the air… Creativity, inspiration and spirituality are some of the most important things to me. All this and much more is captured in this heartbreaking movie.

Séraphine is one of the most tragic movies I have ever seen. It is based on a true story, on the life of the painter Séraphine de Senlis, cleaning woman, artist, visionary, madwoman. But first, and most touchingly, a vulnerable human being. The actress Yolande Moreau does an absolutely outstanding job in this role. Ulrich Tukur starring as the famous German art collector Wilhelm Uhde is equally good.

In 1914 Uhde rents an apartment in Senlis, some 40 kilometers from Paris, to recover from his stressful life. The cleaning woman his landlaydy hires for him startles him at first. She is very rough and hardly speaks a word, seems completely uneducated. Séraphine is pitied by all and hardly taken seriously. People think that she is slightly mad and very odd. During the days she cleans houses and washes people’s laundry, at night she paints and sings. She produces her own paint, mixtures from blood, wax, juices and other substances. When Uhde sees one of her paintings in the appartment of his landlady, he is astonished. To him, who collects the work of the so-called Primitives,  this is the work of a genius and he can hardly believe it has been painted by someone with no schooling. He asks her to paint more for him and to improve herself. The paintings she produces from now on are getting better and better but when the war breaks out, Uhde abandons Séraphine and flees back to Germany.

He doesn’t go back to Senlis for almost twenty years but when he comes back he finds Séraphine again. She is by now totally impoverished but still paints the most magnificent pictures. He helps her sell them and in a short time she makes a lot of money that she spends without restraint until the second world war announces itself through a huge economic crisis. Uhde looses a lot of money and can no longer support Séraphine. But worst of all, the big exhibition in Paris, to which she has been looking forward to for years, will not take place.

Séraphine doesn’t recover from this shock and goes mad. The scene in which she walks through the village, barefoot and in a silken marriage dress is haunting. She is finally  taken to an asylum where she will stay until her death.

Séraphine’s story is sad but also very mysterious. Where did a simple woman without any background or education take her inspiration from? How did she learn to paint? Séraphine said that the virgin Mary inspired her, she sounded like a visionary, not unlike Hildegard von Bingen who painted too.

She also seesm to have communicated with nature. Many of the visually most powerful scenes of the movie show Séraphine walking over fields, hugging trees. This is her way to connect an refuel.

Séraphine is a thoughtful, almost meditative movie, heartbreaking, moving and utterly fascinating. It is slow-paced and takes its time to unfold.

There are so many mysteries in the world. Art, creativity, inspiration and spirituality are some of the most powerful ones. Thanks to movies like Séraphine, we are reminded of this.

For those who want to see more of Séraphine de Senlis’ paintings, I attached this interesting documentary.