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Published June 9th, 2021
'See You Up There' - great film that condenses lyricism, passion and redemption opens in Orinda
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The film "See You Up There" starts at the end of World War I and talks about the return of two surviving soldiers to civilian life, as Paris explodes with the Roaring '20s. Albert Dupontel, the movie director, loves to portray communities' marginalized people and their ingenuity to survive. He does it here with a spectacular movie that successfully blends comedy, tragedy, poetry, emotion and adventure.
The cease-fire has been signed ending the first World War, but terrible events are still unfolding. During one last assault in the trenches that separated French and German soldiers, the passions of war are condensed, mixing hatred and fraternity. Albert Mayard (Dupontel) is saved from death by Edouard Péricourt (Nahuel Perez Biscayart), who gets gravely injured in that moment. The two men find each other in Paris after the war. Mayard is a modest employee working at odd jobs to make ends meet; Péricourt, an artist coming from the upper class, does not want to return to his family. He chooses to pass for dead and takes refuge in a shop laid out under the rafters, creating unbelievably poetic masks to hide his disfigurement. In order to survive, the two organize a scam using the remembrance business that is starting to flourish and to bring fortunes to the unscrupulous, including to their personal enemy, Captain Pradelle, who caused their misfortune. Love, betrayal, redemption, courage, cowardice, mix in this very human dance of survival.
The movie takes an almost cartoonish tone to portray the business manipulations during and after the war. Lies and sham appearances are the norm as the post-war reconstruction economy becomes a breeding ground for thugs. Dupontel uses caricatures to create a distance from a reality that could be unbearable otherwise, and adds a well-managed humorous thread to his tapestry.
"See You Up There" is served by wonderful cinematography that vividly transports the viewers from the desperation of the war front, to brilliant salons where decadent parties are held, to miserable districts of the city where Péricourt, the man-without-a-face, symbolizes death but also creativity and poetry. Nahuel Pérez Biscayart inhabits this incredibly romantic character through his gaze and his body; he is simply overwhelming. Director Dupontel plays Maillard with a convincing mix of naivety and craftiness; Laurent Lafitte as Pradelle is the perfectly despicable bad guy; and Niels Arestrup gives Péricourt's arrogant father the right dose of touching vulnerability.
This imaginative and baroque universe, lyrical and eccentric, should appeal to all audiences. The film is part of the International Film Showcase that presents foreign movies to East Bay audiences, often before they are available nationally.
"See You Up There" opens in Orinda on June 18 for three days and nine screenings; limited seating; tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/international-film-showcase-au-revoir-la-haut-tickets-154758239059

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