If the ambiguities of “One Fine Morning” in some ways recall Éric Rohmer, “Brother and Sister” revives the strain of Cassavetes that critics recognized in early Desplechin films like “Esther Kahn.” For one thing, Alice (Marion Cotillard), an actress starring in a play based on James Joyce’s The Deadbefriends a Romanian woman (Cosmina Stratan) who recalls the smitten fan at the start of Cassavetes’s “Opening Night. ”
But more to the point, the dynamic between Alice and her brother Louis (Poupaud) —siblings who have refused to see each other for 20 years — is best explained as a folie à deux, a state that defined the lives of Cassavetes pairs from Minnie and Moskowitz to Mabel and Nick. Alice and Louis compulsively avoid each other yet find ways to inflict wounds from afar, writing nasty books or responding with libel lawsuits over the writing. Another brother, Fidèle (Benjamin Siksou), the only sibling Alice will acknowledge, becomes a kind of hapless go-between.
To enjoy “Brother and Sister,” it’s necessary to roll with Desplechin’s eccentric branching subplots and to accept that the movie is not meant to be read in a literal way. The accident that sets the plot in motion — involving a car and a truck losing control on a quiet woodland road — surely signals that the movie is operating on an exaggerated level. Indeed, the hatred between Alice and Louis is explicitly framed in biblical terms. Which makes his low-key way that Desplechin and Julie Peyr, his co-writer, resolve it seem all the lighter. “Brother and Sister” is absolutely bizarre, but it’s also a return to form. No other director does crazy quite like Desplechin.
The documentary Mariupolis 2” plays more like a series of rushes from Mariupol, Ukraine, than a finished film, because it technically isn’t one. The director, the Lithuanian documentarian Mantas Kvedaravičius, was killed in Mariupol, Ukraine, in late March while working on the project. (“Mariupolis,” his earlier documentary on Mariupol and the fighting in Eastern Ukraine, premiered in 2016.) Kvedaravičius’s fiancée, Hanna Bilobrova, and the editor on the first “Mariupolis,” Dounia Sichovassembled the footage Kvedaravičius had shot at the time of his death into this form, announced as an addition to the festival just a few days before opening night.
Given how difficult communication with Mariupol has been for much of the war, the documentary is a vital dispatch. It shows smoke-filled skies and neighborhoods reduced to rubble. People pray in dimly lit shelters that may not be around for long, cook on flame pits outside (with no houses, let alone kitchens, to work with), and futilely try to clean up the area while ongoing mass devastation continues.
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