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13th Annual EU Film Festival: A Film with Me in It and Bluebeard

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 5, 2010 8:00PM

A Film with Me in It
This is part of Chicagoist's coverage of The European Union Festival, which runs March 5 to April 1 at the Siskel Film Center.

Poor Mark. Not only is he a starving actor who can't seem to get cast in anything, but he lives with his paraplegic brother and a nagging girlfriend in a flat that's falling apart. Literally. One fateful day a series of ever more absurd accidents inside the crumbling flat start killing off people right and left. Mark's best friend Pierce, a frequently besotted gambler who fancies himself a screenwriter, only escalates things with his hilariously inept attempts to manage the situation. This Irish comedy is slight but tightly wound, and features two wonderful performances. Mark Doherty comes off as a sadsack Michael Richards as the luckless actor, and Dylan Moran's Pierce is a perfect loveable loser who has some of the movie's best lines ("Don't go vegetarian on me now!") Pierce keeps comparing his unwritten screenplay to Fargo; while this doesn't measure up to that classic, if you're a fan of the Coen Brothers' dark gallows humor then A Film with Me in It is worth checking out. Funny cameos by Neil Jordan and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are nice bonuses.

Catherine Breillat has created scads of aggressively provocative movies, so watching one as straightforward as Bluebeard has the effect of a refreshing shock. It's a faithful adaptation of the famous fairy tale, about a fearsome baron and the unfortunate curiosity of his newest wife about what happened to her predecessors. The story is an ideal skeleton for Breillat's observations concerning female sexuality. She does include a few well-chosen moments of gore to spice things up, but for the most part she seems content to forgo embellishment; indeed, the movie clocks in at a fleet 80 minutes. Ravishingly beautiful locations lend a real sense of time and place to the action. And although a framing structure involving two girls reading the story out loud doesn't quite gel with the fairy tale itself, on the whole this is a solid version of an oft-told story.

A Film with Me in It screens 3/6 and 3/8; Bluebeard screens 3/13 and 3/18. Side note: CINE-FILE is presenting excellent running coverage of many of the festival's films on their main list and blog.