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Barbara
Mathieu Amalric Francia, 2017
Barbara probably stands as one of the most French films ever made, one which may struggle to make itself felt or understood by people not steeped in a certain culture. In the same way that someone like Alan Bennett for Britain, or, say, Mr. Rogers for the USA, might be said to be culturally specific figures . . . , so Barbara reflects back at the audience a certain type of France.
February 26, 2019
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It’s a film of scenes rather than of one unified narrative, but each scene is a showcase for the magnificent talents of Ms. Balibar, a multifaceted performer of spectacular magnetism and intelligence.
October 11, 2018
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Balibar’s singing skills allow for a complex audio-track, in which what we hear is sometimes her rendition of the songs, and sometimes the singer’s original voice that seems to take possession of her body . . . – and the frisson that, as spectators, we then experience, echoes a very ancient, mythological sense of the sacred.
March 21, 2018
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If Barbara doesn’t set out to recount a life, it certainly puts a life force on screen. I don’t know how accurate Balibar’s performance is, although the film emphasizes Brigitte’s close study of her model—her turns of phrase, her gestures, her bursts of actressy exuberance and petulance. Balibar—whose own work as a singer was the subject of Pedro Costa’s documentary Ne change rien—gives a majestically flamboyant performance as the singer on- and off-stage.
May 19, 2017
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With its buffet mix of live performances, movie-within-movie snippets and scenes of Brigitte taking great pains to mimic all the tics and inflections of her subject, the film offers emotional hit after emotional hit.
May 19, 2017
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Anything but a classic biopic, this attempt to capture various stages of pre-production, rehearsals, research, and the actual shooting of a forthcoming film is not that easy to follow. But once the viewer realises that this is not about Barbara’s life but her Barbara’s magic and genius, it’s easier to get comfortable and enjoy the show.
May 18, 2017
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No doubt less forgiving viewers will gripe that this film barely has any plot, a position impossible to dispute. It meanders along Parisian bridges and streets, and through provincial towns and film sets, barely bothering its pretty little head with such mundane concerns as character development, story beats or resolution… However, there’s something admirably honest about the meta-method Amalric and co-writer Philippe Di Folco have chosen.
May 18, 2017
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