33rd British Film Festival: Dinard uninhibited!

Colin Firth (right), Olivia Colman (left) and the beautiful English crockery from 'Mothering Sunday'.

Posted Oct 2, 2022, 5:04 PM

“The Almond and the Seahorse” opened the 33rd edition of the Dinard British Film Festival on Wednesday September 28. He left this Saturday, October 1st with the Special Jury Prize. Celyn Jones and Tom Stern’s medical melodrama follows two women whose husbands and partners, struck by a brain injury, suffer from amnesia. Adapted from a play by Katie O’Reilly, “The Almond and the Seahorse” unfortunately fails to find satisfactory visual form. The film plays with so many ellipses that it loses its tempo. A replica, however, set the tone for the selection concocted by artistic director Dominique Green: “You are too uninhibited”, reproaches Rebel Wilson to her husband.

sex and the lady

Much of the work presented evokes these repressed feelings, this need to express oneself hampered by social codes. A bubbling need… for disinhibition! The closing film offers a perfect synthesis of 5 intense days of British cinema. In “Mes rendezvous avec Leo”, a very uptight retired teacher pays for the services of Leo Grande, a high-flying escort-boy. For her, it’s not a question of slumming but rather of “uninhibiting” herself and finally experiencing orgasm after a lifetime of horizontal monotony.

The brilliant screenplay by actress Katy Brand skilfully avoids the pitfalls and tricks of the “romantic comedy”. Alone behind closed doors in a hotel room, the two characters are not going to live a love story like the “Pretty Woman” of the third age. The film weaves a complex, troubled, professional, yet sensitive relationship… and above all often very funny.

Director Sophie Hydes is no colder than her remarkable acting duo. Daryl McCormack, sexy but fragile, confronts Emma Thompson in one of his greatest compositions: touching, burlesque… stunning. It would be unfortunate if the actress of “Remains of the day” goes under the radar of the Oscars 2023, thirty years after her first victory for “Return to Howard’s End” by James Ivory.

English comfort

Emma Thompson’s work in ‘Leo Grande’ practically cuts out the game’s British pattern, as shown to us in Dinard. The actor from across the Channel looks like an iceberg hit by global warming and on the verge of collapsing. Observe the face of Colin Firth in “Mothering Sunday” by Frenchwoman Eva Husson (“Les filles du soleil”). He portrays an aristocrat from the interwar period whose stoic gentleman’s face cracks imperceptibly. A slight grin shakes his lips, flashes of distress streak a look that tries in vain to remain unmoved. The screenplay focuses on her housekeeper, who will gradually become emancipated, live a tragic love story with an inaccessible young man… and become a writer.

Adapted from Graham Swift, “Mothering Sunday” gets lost in a British imagery of green meadows, silverware and other tea services. Under each shot, we would like to nail the words of Jane Austen in “Emma”: “ The sight was sweet, sweet to look at, and sweet to think. The greenery was English. The comfort was English and the sun shone on it all, frank without being overpowering “.

Colin Firth (right), Olivia Colman (left) and the beautiful English crockery from 'Mothering Sunday'.

Colin Firth (right), Olivia Colman (left) and the beautiful English crockery from ‘Mothering Sunday’.©TOBIS Film GmbH

Grand winner of the edition, “Emily” seems cut from the same ivory. Frances O’Connor unfolds an imaginary life of Emily Brontë. A solitary and introverted young woman, love and then loss led her to write “Les Hauts de Hurlevent”. Through a fictional Emily Brontë, Frances O’Connor invents a story of emancipation that resonates with the 2020s. The heroine tries opium and gets a tattoo on her forearm. Unfortunately the staging remains frozen in the imposed figures of British historical re-enactment. Outside, the storm rumbles and the wind beats the wild grasses of the moor. Inside, the poet bends over her sheet in the Vermeerian light of a burning candle… “Emily” wins the Hitchcock d’or, the public prize and that of the best female interpretation for the grandiose composition of ‘Emma Mackey (actress of “Eiffel” and the series “Sex Education”).


Both built in flashbacks, twin films down to their faults, “Mothering Sunday” and “Emily” share the theme of the journey towards creation. And in both cases, sex becomes the hammer that breaks the social yoke and prohibitions. Then come the pain of mourning and finally the liberation through writing. We touch on the British paradox: the constraint of the norm becomes the engine of rebellion… then of creation or genius.

In “Mothering Sunday” and “Emily”, we find the stripping sequence. The fall of clothes, the liberation then the abandonment of the body.

“Quant” by Sadie Frost, the deliciously sixties London class of designer Mary Quant.©DR

“Quant”, a documentary directed by comedian Sadie Frost, tells the same story. In the 1950s, designer Mary Quant imposed miniskirts, PVC clothing and rainbow-colored tights. The line of his pencil scratches the prison of old petticoats to trace light and comfortable clothes that finally allow women to “run to catch the bus”, even if it means shocking old customs. If her subject is repeated too much, Sadie Frost unearths a bouquet of petulant archives based on Beatles and other wild twist evenings. Mary Quant herself exudes the irresistible charm of an Emma Peel.

To be or not to be (oneself)

“Tramps! by Kevin Hegge takes us a little further into the history of London. In the early 1980s, a nice band of broke young people invented a radically eccentric, fun and colorful style. They will be called the “new romantics”. Through this bewildering look, it was, as several speakers say, “to be yourself”.

“I didn’t want to be a pop star, I just wanted to scream.” Sinéad O’Connor in “Nothing Compares”.©Showtime

Great ambition that lives deep inside all the characters of this edition. To be “yourself” or not to be what is expected of you? “I didn’t want to be a pop star, I just wanted to scream,” says Sinéad O’Connor in “Nothing Compares”, the documentary dedicated to him by Kathryn Ferguson. “I didn’t want to become a duchess,” says Mary Quant. However, in 2015, the designer became “Lady of the British Empire”.

Thus are written these British destinies, both individual and eccentric. Then recalled, by the same honours, to their eternal status as “subjects” of an island, a kingdom and henceforth of a king.

Winners of the 33rd Dinard British Film Festival

Hitchcock d’Or Cine Plus

“Emily” by Frances O’Connor.

Hitchcock d’Or for Best Performance

Emma Mackey in “Emily” by Frances O’Connor.

Collective performance award

For the entire cast of “All my Friends Hate me” by Andrew Gaynor.

Special Prize of the Barrier Jury

“The Almond and the Seahorse” by Celyn Jones and Tom Stern.

Audience Award

“Emily” by Frances O’Connor.

Hitchcock from public shortcuts (Short film)

“Rat” by Sarah Gordon.


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