Saturday, June 17, 2017

21 Nuits avec Pattie
(21 Nights with Pattie)

French Film Festival 2017
Greenbelt 3 Cinema

Caroline goes to a remote town in the southern France to bury her mother whom the locals know as Zaza. She was a colorful character and well loved in that closely knitted community. But this is just 'hearsay' for Caroline as she has been estranged from her lawyer mother. Cutting her vacation with family short to take care of the funeral arrangements, she thought it would be fairly quick and done within 3 days.

But then Caroline finds herself stuck in that town when her mother's body (which was just lying in her bed) suddenly disappears. Surrounded by strangers who are a merry, eccentric group of people and out of her comfort zone, Caroline oddly finds herself in a path of self discovery and sexual awakening - something she has knowingly or unknowingly suppressed for a long period.

Set in a wine making small valley with its own peculiarities and bizarre rituals, the story sizzles as hot as the August heat that embraces its residents. Led by Pattie who was Zaza's housekeeper/friend, a woman who has no qualms narrating her sexual exploits, being quite explicit in her details. Everyone in the town are unabashed about their sexuality, swimming naked in the lake or in the swimming pool in Zaza's mansion.  

The plot also takes on a bizarre tone with images of Zaza's ghost gallivanting in her mansion to Caroline's dreamy hallucinations. At this point, one might lose interest as one realizes this is NOT a simple story about a daughter's grief and her coming to terms with feelings of abandonment, isolation and despair. But it just got too quirky and weird for my taste, unfortunately and I dozed off in the dark theater. 

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