Directed by Joe Wright
Written by Christopher Hampton & Gillaume Laurant
Produced by Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner
Executive Producers Richard Eyre & Francis Boespflug
Edited By Paul Tothill, A.C.E.
Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel, A.S.C.
Music by Dario Marianelli
Costume Design by Jaqueline Durran
Production Design by Sarah Greenwood
Art Direction by Aline Bonetto
Set Decoration by Katie Spencer
Daniel Auteuil – Henri Langlois
Gaspard Ulliel – Young Henri Langlois
Cyril Descours – Georges Franju
Louis Garrel – Jean Mitry
Eva Green – Young Mary Meerson
Catherine Deneuve – Mary Meerson
Julie Delpy – Célestin Poux
Tagline: "To love cinema is to love life. His legacy was his life. This is how modern cinema was born"
Synopsis: In other times, movies ended up in the trash bin or left to rot in a basement. A man had the dream of saving, conserving and showing them to the new generations. His name was Henri Langlois.
Paris, 1968, filmmakers and students from all over the world are stationed outside the cinémathèque française protesting against the dismissal of Henri Langlois (Auteuil) as chairman of the cinémathèque. While this happens outside, Langlois stares at the protest from his window, next to him is his secretary Celestin Poux (Delpy), he pulls out of picture from his drawer, it shows him as young man with two other men and a woman, they’re outside that same building, Celestin looks at the back of the photo and it’s marked, 1936.
As a camera takes a picture we see 4 persons in front of a building in a way, celebrating. Henri Langlois (Ulliel), his girlfriend Mary (Green) and his two friends Georges (Descours) and Jean (Garrel), have just inaugurated the cinémathèque in order to preserve all the films lost in time. It would work as a museum of cinema and as a showcase of human expression. During those years Langlois collection went from 10 to 30,000 films.
1968, Celestin asks him about those years, he looks at her and tells her to follow him. During those hours traveling around Paris, Henri would tell her his story, from the beginning of the cinémathèque to the Nazi occupation when the Germans practically wiped out his collection, and how he, with the help of his friends, had to smuggle documents and films in order to protect them. How he watched all the new wave directors nurturing from the past, in order to create a future in cinema. The film follows the story of a man with an unbreakable passion, told through his own eyes during a walk in Paris to his secretary, going back and forward we learn more about this man and how his story determined the future of modern cinema forever.
What the Press would say:
“Cinémathèque”, the new film by British director Joe Wright, achieves greatness in telling the story of legendary film icon, Henri Langlois. “Cinémathèque” does not cover unfamiliar territory, but it manages to find its own romantic voice and like the classic films it celebrates, becomes an enchanting movie that should happily spirit away even the toughest cynics.
The movie begins with an emotional scene, involving Henri Langlois walking down the streets of Paris late at night alone with his thoughts, when he reaches that iconic building called the Cinémathèque Française he crumbles as a small child, this few minutes are so powerful and beautiful, that it transports you to another place in history, setting the story perfectly for what is to come.
The rest of the story narrates all the struggles he went through as a young man as he protected and collected films from all over the world; but the real charm of this movie it’s the way its told, Auteuil in a magnificent performance, takes us on trip through the streets of Paris (dressed up to fit the image of the voluminous Langlois) and it allows us to feel the passion and love Langlois felt for the movies, working as a sort of narrator, we learn more about his past and how it has forged his present. The story goes back and forth in time and covers the main parts of Langlois’ life in a span of 30 years, to offer an outstanding character study. We witness the creation of the cinémathèque and the inner fall of his founder. The film takes you through an emotional trip of ups and downs, of struggle and achievement, to a heartwarming ending that leaves you emotionally exhausted.
Director Joe Wright coordinates a delightfully cohesive acting ensemble and he orchestrates every scene as a work of art, with the help of the impeccable production design and the flawless cinematography that progressively changes tones and colors through the years the movie tells. Wright takes a bow to all the new wave directors and mixes their styles in a canvas of directorial mastery to create a unique view. He and screenwriters Christopher Hampton and Gillaume Laurant add a sense of pragmatism to the magic and idealism of the time; they take us on a delightful trip through the streets of Paris and the heart and psyche of Henri Langlois.
The ensemble offer magnificent performances. Auteuil is heartbreaking and delightful as a chubby Langlois; he immerses himself into his character with outstanding humanity and control over his emotions and strong character, he portrays him as a tough and even arrogant man who faces his demons and eventually finds redemption in himself. Delpy is the true heart of the movie; she offers such a heartfelt performance, that eventually her character breaks Langlois iron armor and helps him reach his soul and remember how it felt to feel that amount of passion for something. Ulliel, Auteuil’s counterpart in playing Langlois, succeeds in every possible way; he exemplifies the eternal romantic and idealist, a charismatic and passionate man with hopes and aspirations and an incredible sense of humanity, he takes the lead in this with a breathtaking performance. Both Auteuil and Ulliel create a complex character, allowing him to evolve and change in front of our eyes; you forget that there are two people playing the same character. Green as the feisty and free spirited Meerson creates a cynical and powerful character that eventually falls for the romantic ideals of Langlois, and Deneuve as an older version of her offers us in just a couple of minutes on screen all the things she saw in Langlois when she fell in love with him.
In the final scene, there’s one of the most powerful moments of the movie, a simple scene where a man and a woman dance in a park at night with no music and suddenly everything makes sense, love and passion are the driving forces in life that will allow you to achieve all your dreams.
Everyone who loves movies is likely to love “Cinémathèque”; it captures and conveys the enchantments, escapes, and enslavements of those mesmerized by movies. Inspiring, emotive and exhilarating, but perhaps more importantly, a generous portrait of a brave man, an artist who we all owe so much.
For Your Consideration:
Best Director – Joe Wright
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Gaspard Ulliel
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Daniel Auteuil
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Julie Delpy
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Eva Green
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Catherine Deneuve
Best Original Screenplay – Christopher Hampton & Guillaume Laurant
And in all categories.