LA FEMME NIKITA
Dir: Luc Besson
A group of members attended the screening of 'La Femme Nikita' the night before it was scheduled.
Well... since Tuesday is request night, and they requested 'La Femme Nikita', we were very happy to play it.
The only problem was that I hadn't checked the Blu-Ray, and discovered as it had started playing that it was dubbed into the English language.
Films dubbed into English are universally dreadful anyway, but what made it even more annoying was that our guests were all French!
So, unfortunately, but very graciously they sat through the dubbed version, complete with Jean Reno's performance dubbed by someone who sounded as if he usually dubs Spongebob Squarepants.
I must thank them for their understanding. The dubbed version was quite painful to watch.
However, I found something rather interesting about the experience of watching it with the dubbed English soundtrack.
Certainly the voices were stilted, clipped and with strange intonation to make the dialogue vaguely fit the mouth movements. This gave the whole film a slightly B-movie feel.
But the film looked and felt very much like a Hollywood film.
I suspect that if one played that version to someone who did not know the film, they might easily think that it was a 'Hollywood' movie albeit a rather superior one.
Last week, we watched 'Diva', a fine example of the new French wave cinema that had many Western influences including music videos and the work of contemporary American directors.
We see that Besson is totally comfortable in this world. In his early twenties, he spent three years in the US, and upon his return to France, became one of the directors who critics referred to as producing 'Cinema du look' - favoring visual style over substance.
While some critics saw this as an exciting new direction, others clearly felt that this was almost a betrayal of the great heritage of French cinema.
In fact, it seems to me, that it was simply an example of French directors making commercial films in a contemporary style, and utilising techniques and methods that were not necessarily just American, but had become international.
Besson himself said, "Today, the revolution is occurring entirely within the industry and is led by people who want to change the look of movies by making them better, more convincing and pleasurable to watch."
What Besson brings to this film, and certainly continued with 'Leon' was intelligence, psychological depth, and real character development. While both films can be categorised as 'action' films - a very American modern genre, there can be no doubt that Besson refined the genre.
By blending the elements of the American action film with the psychological and performance-driven heritage of French cinema, Besson has made some very fine films.