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Love smoulders in Cold War and embers refuse to die in L'amour Flou

By Rosslyn Hyams

In October's Cinefile, RFI's Rosslyn Hyams talks to Cannes award-winning director Pawel Pawlikovski about his grave love story, Cold War and talks about light-hearted but serious unlove story L'Amour Flou's success with actor-directors Romane Bohringer and Philippe Rebbot. Click on the arrow to listen to Cinefile.

Cold War

A lot has already been written about Pawel Pawlikovski's film, as it has travelled across the world since winning the prize for best director at the 2018 Cannes Fim Festival.

Zula and Viktor fall in love just after World War Two is over. She is much younger and intrinsically unsettled. She unsettles Viktor who remains perturbed throughout the film.

Joana Kulig plays opposite Tomasz Kot and they are a well-matched as ill-matched lovers, her exuberance and passion versus his smouldering desire. Although in real life, there is a mere five-year age difference.

It's not surprising as when they first meet at an audition of girls and boys from the Polish countryside, ironically, supposed to be pure, Zula explains that she if she killed her father it's because she needed to explain to him that "he had confused his daughter, with his wife."

Kulig explains why this line is so important in building Zula's character.

"We knew that she had a problem with the father, with a really difficult situation and something really strange about her background. So in her relationship with Viktor, we knew that Zula, who is so sensitive, at the same time, she doesn't have a good example from men. Sometimes Zula fights with Viktor, but he really loves her, and she has a problem with trust. She later on realises the problem and turns to drink to help. But it doesn't."

No matter that they want different things from life, Viktor and Zula are destined to be together, because of love.

Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot in 'Cold War' directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. Neue Visionen Filmverleih

Contrasts are key to the director's vision in Pawlikowski's third feature film  Black and white, a powerful folk, jazz and rock and roll music score and the passage of 30 years in the space of less than two hours, sharpen the drama of Cold War, which as Pawlikovski says "is not political, although public money does go to folk culture rather than to some more contentious expressions. That being said there is freedom of expression today."

Cold War is not just a clever title about an impossible love affair. It led Kulig to think about the Communist past of Poland.
"I knew it was difficult in those times for my parents and grandparents, and I remember my mother and grandmother talking about Walesa, and thinking this was very important. Now we can say what we think. In those days people were scared and had to be careful."


L'amour flou (Hazy Love)

In their first directing bid, the Bohringer-Rebbot team, mother-father and two children, Rose and Raoul, dish up a comedy based on the drama of separation. They make a sallient point about the blurry lines upon which so many relationships flounder, and make a success out of a situation commonly deemed a failure.

Experienced actors both, they bring something refreshing to their French romp.

Romane and Philippe have had enough of each other. Or so they think. It's not so easy to cut the ties and move on, or out, when you have two little ones you want to care for.

Avoiding potentially stale humour about domestic love-on-the-wane, the duo lead the spectator along a bumpy path to possible contentment.

Philippe Rebbot (R) and Romane Bohringer at the Angoulème Festival, August 2018. Yohan BONNET / AFP

Bohringer and Rebbot are at their funniest in this bundle of emotions when they feel the pull of attraction elsewhere. Rebbot's eye wanders to a much younger jogger, is thwarted by a cat-allergy, while Bohringer is led astray by lust and fantasy, hetero and homo sexual.

Bravo to them for converting a family break-up into a tender un-breakup.

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