09 January 2013

Best of 2012: Sophie Letourneur's Le marin masqué

Le marin masqué
2011, France
Sophie Letourneur

Similar to António da Silva's Julian, another of my favorite new films of 2012 follows the same set-up: someone returning home for a weekend visit with a friend in tow. In Le marin masqué, two young women, Laetitia and Sophie, take a road trip to Laetitia's home town of Quimper, in the northwest of France. The weekend consists of cute interactions with Laetitia's father, crêpe-hunting, and a night at the local disco where they run into one of Laetitia's girlhood crushes "le marin masqué" (or, the masked sailor, played by Johan Libéreau).

Made for around €150 and shot in black-and-white on HD video, Le marin masqué fills a similar cinematic void that Sofia Coppola did ten or so years ago, that void being films which combined youthful charm with intelligence and, most importantly, a feminine eye. Watching Laetitia and Sophie chat endlessly with one another, I was reminded of how few films exist that could be accurately referred to as "girly" without condescension. Le marin masqué premiered at the 2011 Locarno Film Festival, and Letourneur's festival-going experience became the inspiration for her latest feature Les coquillettes, about three young women cruising a film festival for available men, which subsequently made its world premiere at Locarno 2012.

With: Laetitia Goffi, Sophie Letourneur, Johan Libéreau, Thomas Salaun, Dominique Salaun, Emmanuelle Fitamant, Bertrand Boulogne

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