LILY SOMETIMES (Pieds nus sur les limaces)
Directed by: Fabienne Berthaud
Written by: Pascal Arnold and Fabienne Berthaud (novel)
Starring: Diane Kruger, Ludivine Sagnier and Denis Menochet
The City of Lights, City of Angels film festival (or Col-Coa as its commonly referred to) began this week. Yours truly was lucky enough to be invited to join in on the wonderful French films that screened during the festival. Col-Coa runs April 11- 18 at the Directors Guild Theater Complex in Los Angeles. For more information on films and for tickets, please visit them online, on Facebook or on Twitter.
Ah sisters! Can’t live with them. Can’t commit them to insane asylums. Isn’t that how the old adage goes?! LILY SOMETIMES sets out to explain one family’s sisterly relationship. Not quite as interesting or powerful as the filmmaker intended I’m sure, as the only emotion the audience feels by the end is one of frustration.
Lily (Ludivine Sagnier in her Lumière award winning performance) is just your average simple girl living in the countryside with her mother. Who are we kidding? No she’s not. A free spirit by nature, Lily makes the word bohemian sound conservative. She spend most of days making weird creations in her shed and surrounding woods. When her mother dies suddenly, Lily’s eccentricities envelope her and her older straight laced sister Clara (Diane Kruger) feels its her duty to move back in and look after her wacky sister. As a stark contrast to Lily’s wildness, Clara is much more serious and conventional. Her husband, Pierre (played by INGLORIOUS BASTERDS Denis Menochet) is a lawyer in Paris and he has no time for the silly games these sisters play. However, its during her stay with Lily that Clara begins to wonder about her own life choices.
Oh, have we failed to mention yet that Lily is constantly dressed in her skimpy pajamas? All day, everyday. Now that I think about it, that’s not a half bad idea. It makes you wonder when later on in the film she travels to Paris to meet up with her sister, how the locals could tell if she was homeless or just a hipster. She keeps furry dead animals in the fridge which are then utilized to make a new pair of slippers or fur underpants. As the sisters are the exact opposite of each other, it makes you wonder how was one able to grow and mature (Clara), and the other stay a child (Lily). The film never addresses this question.
Once Clara moves in with her troublemaking sister, the film starts to fall apart. Lily is refreshingly honest but that doesn’t always go over so well. When Clara is confronted by her in-laws and husband to do something about Lily, she ignores it. Lily starts to act out more by putting herself in dangerous situations, such as inviting random truck stop drivers home and hanging out in abandoned vans with local ne’er-do-well boys. Just when you think Clara has had enough (when she finds her mother-in-law’s dead dog decaying under Lily’s bed), she doesn’t do anything to rectify the problem. Granted I don’t have a sister (I have two brothers), but if I caught either of them pulling the shenanigans Lily does, I would send them on the next bus to the funny farm. The only one who has any semblance of reality is Pierre, who’s played wonderfully by Menochet. Sagnier and Kruger are wonderful actresses but their characters were so infuriating, I just wanted to slap them both.
Director Fabienne Berthaud’s filmmaking and storytelling style is most akin to Sofia Coppola. Not a lot happens in the film. It’s more about emotional connections captured at a certain pivotal point in time for these sisters. Berthaud, who wrote the novel the film was based on, also was the film’s cinematographer. Sadly, too many things ring false and I just couldn’t get on board with liking kooky Lily or Clara.
So in the end, the sisterly bond will remain a mystery to me. Unless you are a huge fan of the director or stars, I can’t totally recommend seeing this film.
2 out of 5
Check out the trailer (en français) below: