Using music as a leitmotif

Denis Dercourt, who teaches the viola and chamber music in the National Conservatory in Strasbourg, sure knows how music can create crests and troughs in the listener’s mind. It shows in The Page Turner (La Tourneuse de pages), the French language film directed by him. Dercourt not only uses music as a leitmotif in his film but also uses it to heighten the thrill quotient.

Shown at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section, it is all about revenge, and Dercourt uses both music and silence to great effect to enhance the mood. The storyline is quite simple actually — young Melanie (Deborah Francois), whose hopes as a child to have a musical career gets destroyed unwittingly by piano maestro Ariane (Catherine Frot), wants revenge. But the execution of this plotline has been carried out in such an understated style that viewers are left shaken by the intensity of the finale.
What makes the film a great watch is the unpredictability of the story, as Melanie adjusts and re-adjusts her plans to get revenge depending on the situation at hand. The resultant twists and turns make the viewer wonder how much of the happenings are due to Melanie’s own plans and how much because of her ability to grasp opportunities. The highly competitive world of classical music provides a perfect backdrop for this thriller.

Attempts at rekindling romance

Directed by Julie Delpy, who has acted in films by Jean-Luc Godard, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Jim Jarmusch, 2 Days in Paris (Deux Jours A Paris) is a romantic comedy that, needless to say, has Paris as the backdrop. Some critics have pointed to the similarity between the story of this film, in which a French photographer and her American partner are trying to rekindle their romance during a vacation in Paris amidst distractions created by her family and string of former boyfriends. Delpy seems to be inspired by the Woody Allen school of filmmaking, as she delved into a study of relationships beset with problems created by cultural differences and individual preferences, using similar comedic treatment. Marion (Delpy herself) and Jack (Adam Goldberg), in their mid-30s, go out of and back into their relationship as both learn new things about life through their journey. While there have been much better films on similar themes, including those by Allen, Delpy comes up with a work that is able the charm the viewer quite a bit. The film connects with the viewers through its everyday situations and characters, and also with the effervescent handling of the theme. A pleasant viewing this one is, if nothing more.

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