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The Dreamlife of Angels / Sister 

A woman smiling.
August 14, 2022 - 7:00 pm

The Dreamlife of Angels

La vie rêvée des anges, France, 1998

Erick Zonca’s feature film debut revolves around drifting, free-spirited Isa (Élodie Bouchez) and reserved Marie (Natacha Régnier) after a chance encounter at their soul- and back-breaking sweatshop gig brings on a magnetic, intense friendship. Almost perfect yin to the other’s yang in both personality and life stages, Isa moves into the flat Marie has been housesitting while its tenants are in the hospital after a car accident within less than 24 hours of knowing each other. The two embark on a spree of carefree trysts—crashing the local club after ingratiating themselves to the bouncers, hitting the shopping mall when one experiences a sudden windfall—until swaggerly young club owner Chriss (Denis regular Grégoire Colin) begins a dangerous flirtation with Marie that threatens both her sense of self-worth and her bond with Isa. Relying on the naturalistic performances of its two leads, Godard and co-DP Dominique Le Rigoleur shoot Zonca’s lived-in characters in fluid long takes, lending a sense of vérité realism to this constructed yet never contrived story of friendship on the fringes. Leads Bouchez and Régnier jointly won Best Actress for their performances at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. The film was also selected, though not formally nominated, as the French entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 71st Academy Awards.

35mm, color, in French with English subtitles, 113 min. Director: Erick Zonca. Screenwriters: Erick Zonca, Roger Bohbot, Pierre Chosson. Cinematographers: Agnès Godard, Dominique Le Rigoleur. Editor: Yannick Kergoat. With: Élodie Bouchez, Natacha Régnier, Grégoire Colin.


Switzerland/France, 2012

Agnès Godard’s first time shooting digitally was, as she shared in a New York Times on the occasion of the release of Ursula Meier’s Sister in 2012, “quite an experience. It’s really a very big change to move from film to digital. The images don’t have the same texture, the poetic charge is different, so you have to reinvent the images.” With incredibly naturalistic performances from Kacey Mottet Klein and Léa Seydoux playing brother and sister in a tenement complex in the valley below a luxury ski hill in the Alps, Godard’s stark images seem inspired by both the frigid wintertime environs and the cold-as-ice interactions between Klein and Seydoux, who pilfer ski equipment from the hyper-rich to pay for daily essentials. As the nature of the pair’s relationship evolves, Godard’s camera becomes a breathing witness to something quite canny. “Digital demands a very technical approach to the image,” Godard explains, “whereas before with film, even if there was a technical base, you could slide more easily toward a more intuitive approach. With digital, the camera sees more than us, and that’s a gap to fill that’s very technical and very strange.”

DCP, color, in French and English with English subtitles, 98 min. Director: Ursula Meier. Screenwriter: Antoine Jaccoud, Ursula Meier. Cinematographer: Angès Godard. Editor: Nelly Quiettier. With: Léa Seydoux, Kacey Mottet Klein, Martin Compston, Gillian Anderson.