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Monday, September 9, 2013

'Three Worlds:' Its A Different World From Where You Come From

The English-subtitled French film "Three Worlds," which Film Movement releases on DVD on September 10, 2013, is like many European productions in that it does a very good job telling a story that is very familiar to Americans.

Before discussing "Worlds" itself, it is worth mentioning that Film Movement is releasing it as part of its awesome independent or foreign film of the month club. Unlike the great distress of Marie Barone of the classic sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" regarding the endless deliveries of fruit to her home, these DVDs are a real treat. I already look forward to receiving "Aliyah" in the next few weeks.

"Worlds" begins on the evening of the events that cause the three lives to which the title refers to collide. Middle-class Al is less than two weeks away from marrying his wealthy boss' daughter. Student Juliette is fighting with her boyfriend/baby daddy about ejecting her rooommate so said significant other can move in, and working-class illegal Moldavian immigrants Vera and Adrian are entertaining Adrian's buddies.

The figurative collisions commence with an actual one between Adrian and the car that a  drunken Al is driving. Juliette witnesses this hit but cannot see the car or Al well enough to identify him and his drunken work buddies before Al runs.

American audiences have seen this story many times from "The Bonfire of the Vanities" to "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and the many TV and movie productions along the scale between these films. "Worlds" stands out regarding both the high quality of the story itself and how the director and cast present it.

Juliette meets Vera while visiting a badly injured Adrian in the hospital; this leads to Juliette offering Vera emotional support and help dealing with the hospital's bureaucracy.

Juliette also soon discovers Al's identity and confronts him at the high-end car dealership where his boss/future father-in-law recently made him manager and awarded him 25 percent of the business.

The second act of "Worlds" revolves around Juliette acting as a (not-so dangerous) liasion between Al and Vera, Al struggling to secretly raise money to compensate Vera under the table, and Vera striving to get Adrian necessary medical care in a country in which they are not legal residents.

Whether the outcomes in the third act result in justice for every character provides a great subject for a discussion over brie and Chardonnay.

Like all good art films, "Worlds" is not sensationalistic and moves at a leisurely pace. Most of the drama is understated, and the characters largely react to their circumstances as expected. However, one would expect that Al would have displayed a bit more anxiety and that Vera would have been more distraught.

As good as "Worlds" is, the bonus short that comes with it (and every film of the month) steals the show. "The Piano Tuner" is also in French and is more clever.

The titular character is a former concert pianist who turns to tuning other people's instruments after experiencing a breakdown. He successfully enhances the demand for his service by feigning blindness out of a validated belief that his clients will conclude that the loss of his sight improves his sense of hearing.

This subterfuge initially allows the tuner to observe how other people act when they do not think that anyone else is watching. Things take a darker (no pun intended) turn when he stumbles (pun intended this time) onto a recent misdeed that a client committed. Saying more would ruin the experience of watching this well-made short subject.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Three Worlds" or "The Piano Tuner" is welcome to email me. You can also follow me on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.