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BLAME IT ON FIDEL!

Director: JULIE GAVRAS

FRANCE • 2006 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY STEREO SR • 99 MIN


TO NINE-YEAR-OLD ANNA IT MAKES VERY LITTLE SENSE. ONE MINUTE SHE’S RUNNING AROUND LIKE A PRINCESS IN HER ARISTOCRATIC GRANNY’S CHÂTEAU, THE NEXT MINUTE SHE’S STUCK IN A MINUTE PARIS APARTMENT FILLED WITH STRANGE BEARDY CHILEAN MEN AND AN EXILED CUBAN MAID WHO BLAMES EVERYTHING ON FIDEL CASTRO.

So what’s happened in the meantime? Well, several years too late for ’68, her lawyer father has decided to listen to his political conscience, stung by his brother-in-law’s travails at the hands of the Franco regime, while her journalist mother has left her women’s magazine job to write a book on something called ‘abortion’. From their daughter’s perspective it’s just not fair, and there’s much stamping of little feet as they try to explain in terms she’ll understand, though she in turn sees right through their posturing.

Quite how closely this resembles the childhood of its director, Julie Gavras, whose father is the radical film-maker Costa-Gavras (of ‘Z’ and ‘Missing’ fame), remains open to conjecture, but it plays both as delightfully sly comedy and a warmly humane look at that time in every child’s life when they realise that the world beyond their door is a complicated place for reasons that are not always easy to grasp. Eschewing easy laughs at the expense of the parents’ idealism, the film benefits from a wonderful performance from child actress Nina Kervel, who brings both instinctive intelligence and a bracing scowl to her role as Little Miss Unimpressed. A thoughtful drama delivered with a feather touch, this is a captivating experience.—Trevor Johnston.

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