by Jeff Niesel
The latest Harry Potter film is the sole major studio release to open this week. But over at the Cedar Lee Theatre, two new films open tomorrow. Here are our reviews.
The Girl from Monaco When an attorney named Bertrand (Fabrice Luchini) goes to Monaco to defend a woman accused of murder, he ends up falling for Audrey, a stunning weather girl (Louise Bourgoin) who turns out to be a femme fatal of sorts, “ a witch in the modern sense,” as Bertrand puts it. Despite the best efforts of his bodyguard Christophe (Roschdy Zem) to dissuade him, she seduces Bertrand and even disrupts his ability to hold it together in the courtroom. Anne Fontaine’s movie alternates between being a serious drama about a man who can’t contain his desire for a gorgeous woman (and Audrey’s skimpy dresses make it painfully clear how irresisible she is) and a Pink Panther-like comedy as Luchini comes off as a Closeau-like character at times. It all never quiet gels, though the French flick somehow garnered a couple of Cesar nominations after its overseas release last year. ** 1/2 (Jeff Niesel)
The Stoning of Soraya M. Before Neda, the young woman who died before the world's eyes during post-election protests in Iran, there was Soraya, a 35-year-old mother who was stoned to death on trumped-up adultery charges in Ayatollah Khomeini's 1986 Iran. Soraya's supposedly true story was told in French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam's novel The Stoning of Soraya M. The book has been adapted into an unrelievedly grim movie by Cyrus Nowrasteh, who wrote the screenplay with his wife. James Caviezel plays Sahebjam, whose car breaks down (conveniently) in a remote Iranian village, where desperate, chador-draped Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo), tells him about the killing of her niece, Soraya (Mozhan Marnò), whose story unfolds in flashback.
The timing of this release, as neoconservative hawks push for military intervention in Iran, raises suspicion that it's actually a skillful piece of anti-Muslim propaganda. ** (Pamela Zoslov)