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Café de Flore – review

Kevin Parent as Antoine in Café de Flore

RELEASED: May 11

REVIEW: Anton Bitel

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“I like to cut the sound – it gives more punch to what’s happening.”

So says Antoine (Kevin Parent), a Montreal DJ who, in 2011, is setting up home with his new love Rose (Evelyne Brochu) even as his former long-term partner Carole (Hélène Florent) struggles to accept he – her soulmate – has left her for good.

Vanessa Paradis stars as Jacqueline

As deftly as Antoine switches between the records on his mix desk, writer/director Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.The Young Victoria) interweaves this modern love-triangle with another mirrored tale set in 1969, in which devoted working-class Parisian Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis) is put through the emotional wringer as her beloved Down’s Syndrome son transfers his affections for his mother to a new girl in his special needs class.

As these parallel narratives unfold, separated by time and space but conjoined by their shared motifs of love, loss, jealousy and obsession, hints emerge of other, less strictly thematic connections between them.

Vallée may leave open the precise status of Jacqueline’s drama; is it a dream? A ghost story? A past life? A retro remix?

But even as her tragic breakdown haunts Carole’s present predicament, Café de Flore is focused not just upon the endless iterations of love’s end, but also upon the possibility of change.

It is a lost twin to The Double Life of Veronique, heartfelt, enigmatic and punchy to the end – and beyond.

4 stars

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