Wing tips

Movie: The Dreamlife of Angels

comment
The Dreamlife of Angels
Length: 1 hour, 52 minute
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Website: http://www.spe.sony.com/classics/dreamlifeofangels/index.html
Release Date: 1999-05-14
Cast: Elodie Bouchez, Natacha Régnier, Grégoire Colin
Director: Erick Zonca
Screenwriter: Erick Zonka, Roger Bohnot
WorkNameSort: The Dreamlife of Angels
Our Rating: 4.00

Isa and Marie are no angels -- they're just two working-class young women who meet at their job as sewing-machine operators in a sort of genteel sweatshop in the French city of Lille. Isa (Elodie Bouchez) looks like the one to be concerned about -- a gawky waif we first see on the street, all her possessions in a knapsack, trying to raise some spare change by peddling little picture cards she's made by pasting magazine clippings onto pieces of colored cardboard. It's one of her potential customers who offers her a job in sewing-machine hell -- a real job, he informs her, not this sad little homemade postcard scam.

Marie (Natacha Régnier), on the other hand, seems to have it more together, a far cry from Isa both in physical appearance and demeanor. A cool blonde to Isa's tomboyish brunette, she's productively proficient at work while Isa wrestles clumsily with her unyielding machine. When Isa is fired after her first day, Marie offers her a place to stay, demonstrating that opposites do attract, or at least engender mutual curiosity.

But our first impressions are deceiving, and one of the impressive things about this feature debut from writer-director Erick Zonca (which captured a shared best-actress award at Cannes for the two leads) is that nothing happens as expected.

Marie's self-possessed persona turns out to be a willful carapace shielding a soft center of anger and need. We catch glimpses behind the facade early on, but the surface only really begins to crumble when she becomes involved with the handsome, rich and casually sadistic Chriss. Grégoire Colin (the Boni of "Nénette et Boni") is excellent as the villain of the piece.

We begin to see Isa's hapless pluckiness as a sign of strength, of a perseverance that will get her through a difficult life. We see also that Isa can connect to the people around her in a way that Marie simply can't -- an ability that will save her as sure as it will destroy Marie.

Zonca's title for his film may seem to be ironic, but by the end of this intelligent and painfully humane tale it makes perfect sense -- this being, in part, the story of someone who could no longer dream and so came crashing down to earth.

Tags

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.