26 January 2016

Olivier Jahan’s ‘Les Châteaux de sable’

Can’t live with him, can’t live without him … 

The sixth edition of My French Film Festival is running from 18 January to 18 February 2016, making some recent films available on line and in cinemas. The first I’ve seen is Olivier Jahan’s Les Châteaux de sable (Sand Castles).

Éléonore and her ex, Samuel, are spending the weekend at the house in Brittany that she has been left by her father. She is a thirty-something photographer whose career is not going well and she needs to sell the house despite its memories. Samuel is an academic historian writing a doctorate based on a shaky thesis about Hitler and the death of his niece, Geli Raubal. Éléonore and Samuel broke up when she went off with someone else, a mistake as it turned out, but by then he was living with Laure. A local estate agent (realtor), Claire, brings a succession of potential buyers to the house, including Maëlle, who was, unknown to Éléonore, a close friend of her father. The couple’s relationship, their relationship with Claire, Samuel’s with Laure, Éléonore’s with her father and his with Maëlle are all explored over the weekend. Perhaps not surprising then that there is extensive use of explanatory voice-overs on the way to finding out if anyone buys the house and whether Éléonore will be seeing Samuel again.

The house is in the Côtes d’Armor department on the north coast of Brittany at Lezardrieux. As Claire explains during the film, the singer-songwriter George Brassens lived there – one of his songs is Les Châteaux de sable. Anyone who enjoyed the late Eric Rohmer’s films will probably like Jahan’s perhaps more melancholic tale. Emma de Caunes in the part of Éléonore provides a convincing portrayal of a young woman who knows she is at a turning point in her life.

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