PostED ON WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2017
As the guest of honor of the Lumière festival, director Diane Kurys returns to her hometown, bearing gifts for film enthusiasts: a master class at the Comédie-Odéon and the screening of four works from her rich filmography.
From the flirtations at Jules Ferry high school in Peppermint Soda to the morbid jealousy of Lena's husband in Entre Nous, to a post-WWII passion in For a Woman, love is in every frame, every scene of the films of Diane Kurys. The Lyonnaise director illustrates, like no one else, the emotions and the sensitivity of her characters, often inspired by her own life.
It should be said that, long before baby Diane pointed the tip of her nose one morning in December 1948 in Lyon, the history of her family had all the material worthy of a film. Her father, a Russian immigrant, saves his fiancée's life by marrying her in a French internment camp. It is hard not to believe in love with such a moving back story. In her azure gaze, did the little girl from the Croix-Rousse dream of engraving this union on film? Accompanied by her mother and sister, Diane Kurys makes her début at the theater and then the cinema in Paris. She starts out as an actress, notably in Federico Fellini’s Casanova, released in 1976.
A year later, she passes behind the camera for the first time, directing Peppermint Soda, inspired by her high school years. The first emotions of Anne and her sister Frédérique touch the hearts of millions of French people … This cult film of a whole generation was rejuvenated this year, with a theatrical release, followed by a restored version, issued in August 2017. We cannot resist the pleasure of taking a tour of a few works of this filmmaker, who brilliantly depicts the torments of adolescence and the morals of an era. Spotlight on three films by Diane Kurys that have marked generations of cinema lovers.
In the courtyard of Jules Ferry high school, Anne (13) and her sister Frédérique (15) dream of falling in love from the very first day of the school year. The vinyl records crackle, student dances are organized and first experiences flow into the life of the two sisters, in search of freedom. In the Paris of the sixties, teenagers are burning with desire. For Diane Kurys, this first feature-length film, inspired by her own life, is a true masterpiece. Since its release in 1977, Peppermint Soda has enjoyed tremendous success, selling over three million tickets. Crowned by the Louis-Delluc Prize, the film is part of the history of French cinema and has become a cult classic for a whole generation. This gem became Proust’s madeleine for many moviegoers, who still occasionally hum the title track by Yves Simon.
Six years after Peppermint Soda, Diane Kurys films the story of a unique friendship between two women (played by Miou-Miou and Isabelle Huppert) during the 1950s. The carefree and dreamy teenagers have become young women who are vastly different, and whose relationship will devastate everything in its path. Diane Kurys, an accomplished director, continues her exploration of her family history and makes it a point of honor to restore the morals of an era. Bathed in light and sensuality, the film is also a magnificent declaration of love to Lyon, where the film was shot.
For a Woman
An old photo reveals a well-kept family secret. Upon the death of her mother, Anne discovers a box filled with memories of her parents' younger years. In the aftermath of WWII, a mysterious uncle appears in the life of Lena (Mélanie Thierry) and Michel (Nicolas Duvauchelle). In this autobiographical account, Diane Kurys, played by one of her favorite actresses Sylvie Testud (also from the Croix-Rousse), puts forward the idea that she might be the daughter of this enigmatic uncle who came from the Soviet Union at the end of the war. “Instead of doing a DNA test, I made a film," she said during an interview this week to newspaper Le Progrès. Diane Kurys continues to weave the thread of her life with poignant realism.