East End Film Festival: And Then I Was French – Review

‘Leave the beautiful people for each other, like in the movies’.

As we are introduced to our main characters, a mousey, seemingly pretty girl and a good looking tall, beared, most of all confident American guy it all feel a tad forced. A film school one on one as if you will, of how to make a sickeningly sweet Hollywood-esque meet cute. As the two become massage therapy partners on their course, it becomes hard to fathom why this even got chosen for the East End Film Festival. But And Then I Was French quickly becomes a self-discovering thriller of a journey.

And unexpected title sequence paves the way for what we are about to witness. As Cara inevitability falls for new kid on the block Jay, it is crystal clear that she doesn’t have a shot of winning him over. After Jay’s eccentric, vicious dog keeping brother Matt whisks him off to stay in London with him, he becomes engaged to Natasha, a striking French woman.  When the fragile Cara finds out, the most peculiar things awaken inside her as she is forced to bare the pain of unrequited love. As Jay becomes engrossed in the lavish partying lifestyle his brother leads, happiness takes on a whole new meaning. Ultimately, no one in this universe is happy in the conventional sense.

At times this screams student project, whilst some shots are destined to be up there with early David Lynch or Aronofsky. By no means is And Then I Was French an easy film to watch. In fact, it’s these types of tales that divide audiences and really push the boundaries when it comes to exploring very close to society topics. A pained young woman, dealing with the fact that the man she has fallen in love with, will never touch her with a barge pole is as common as muck. Everywhere we turn this is happen, in TV, film, in the playground, you name it. And of course, this is a story we have all heard a thousand times, yet it’s what writer, director Claire Leona Apps does with it that transforms this average plot into something both terrifying and fascinating.

Cara transforms into a feisty femme fatale that oozes confidence and eloquence, everything she thinks Jay wants in a woman. But is it enough? Residing at the heart of this experimental piece is an important message – always be true to yourself and never change too much just to fit it. The beautiful people aren’t just for the movies and you don’t need to be French.

If this film does nothing for you, it will be sure to make to ingrain Boy George’s, Karma Chameleon in your head for the next couple of days. A catchy number yes, but one can’t help but feel it was overused considerably even if it was making a point. After the third time we hear it, the point is clear and there is no need for constant reminders.


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