Wednesday, March 11, 2015

“Stubborn”– Movie Review



This week, I attended the North American Premiere of the comedy-drama “Stubborn” at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center’s “Rendez-vous With French Cinema” series.


When a Frenchman falls in love with an American woman and follows her home to New York City, will he be able to win her over or will she be able to resist his attempts?


Vincent (Vincent Macaigne) is a Frenchman so deeply in love, he’s left his home country in order to pursue Barbara (Kate Moran), the woman whom he believes is the love of his life.  Following a brief affair while she was in France, Barbara returned to New York City to live with her boyfriend; unfortunately for both of them, Vincent refuses to move on with his life.  Instead, he is determined to prove his love for her in the hope that she’ll leave her boyfriend for him.  Towards that end, Vincent has moved to New York, where he basically stalks Barbara. 

Feeling sorry for Vincent, Barbara agrees to meet with him upon his arrival.  Nonplussed at his sudden appearance, Barbara tries to get Vincent to understand she doesn’t reciprocate his feelings; she buys him an airplane ticket back to France and tells him to use it before he wastes further time on this folly.  Bothered that Barbara doesn’t change her mind based on his obvious sincerity, Vincent nevertheless keeps hounding her until her boyfriend informs him that neither of them appreciate his intrusion on their life and he should make quick use of that plane ticket.

Realizing Barbara wants nothing to do with him, Vincent decides it’s time to leave her alone – but that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t stop thinking about her periodically.  Instead of returning to France, Vincent stays in New York City.  When his family pays him a visit, they try to talk Vincent into coming home with them; his father even offers to help set him up in the family business.  Vincent, however, believes that if he stays in New York, he’s still got a chance at being with Barbara.  Will Vincent spend the rest of his days chasing after this dream or will he realize he’s wasting his time?


While “Stubborn” (or, as its French title, “Une Histoire Américaine”) may ostensibly be something of a romantic comedy, it eventually evolves into more like a character study of Vincent, a truly mentally disturbed man.  Although some may wind up laughing at him out of relief because Vincent is so unusual, others may laugh precisely because they do know a man exactly like Vincent.  Whether the humor is derived from Vincent’s audacity or from recognition, many audiences will certainly find him funny – which perhaps says more about us than about him. 

If you in fact do look at this as a character study, Vincent might seem like a sociopathic narcissist.  He may claim to be in love with Barbara, but it’s clearly all about his feelings because he’s completely disassociated from other people’s feelings about him or his behavior.  Does “Stubborn” sound like it may be your type of movie?  Those that do will probably find it worthwhile simply because of what will henceforth be referred to as The Orange Juice scene.  Without a doubt, this may well be one of the most uncomfortable scenes you’ve ever witnessed in a movie – admittedly, though, Macaigne plays it brilliantly. 

Following the screening was a question and answer session with the director and others associated with the film. Director Armel Hostiou said the opening shot of the movie – a fascinating tracking shot over 2nd Avenue in Manhattan and across the Queensboro Bridge – was done using a palm-held video camera while he rode the suspended tram going from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. He also stated the idea for the motion picture came from a short did previously; he wanted to work with the same actor again, so when Macaigne became available, Hostiou developed the idea into a feature-length film. A couple of the actors were present and they agreed the hardest part of the shoot was the considerable amount of re-writing of the script and improvising on the set.

Une histoire américaine (2015) on IMDb

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