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Blame it on Fidel!

Blame it on Fidel!

Studio:Koch Lorber Films
Director:Julie Gavras
Cast:Nina Kervel-bey, Julie Depardieu, Stefano Accorsi, Benjamin Feuillet, Martine Chevallier, Olivier Perrier, Marie Kremer
Release Date:2007
Genre:Drama, Historical

By Bret McCabe | Posted 12/12/2007

THE MOVIE Anna (Nina Kervel-Bey) is a resolute, precocious 9-year-old. She likes the nice house where she lives with her lawyer father (Stefano Accorsi), journalist mother (Julie Depardieu, Gérard's daughter), and younger brother (Benjamin Feuillet). She likes going to Catholic school, where all the girls have to stand up and politely greet the Mother Superior when she walks into the room. She likes her nanny, the Cuban Filomena (Marie-Noëlle Bordeaux). Life is good, and she'd very much like it to stay that way.

The problems start when her father's sister and her daughter come to stay with them. She was living in Spain with her husband, and she had to be smuggled out. This is 1970 Paris, when Leftist radicalism's clash with reactionary governments was about to hit its peak around Europe and Latin America, and Anna's parents are young enough to be caught up in wanting to be activist on the right side. Soon, Anna hears conversations about smuggling refugees and reform. Soon, Filomena is telling Anna about how life changed for her under Fidel Castro. Soon, Anna's family in moving into a smaller apartment, getting rid of their bourgeois nanny, and looking for a suitable revolutionary workplace for a lawyer and journalist. Anna knows something strange is afoot in her life, and she realizes just what's wrong when her father and mother come back from a work trip to Chile, during which time her father grew a beard: Her parents are communist.

Director Julie Gavras works a deliciously observed and riotously deadpan comedy with Blame It on Fidel!, her feature directorial debut. As the daughter of Costa-Gavras-the great Greek director of politically minded movies Z, State of Siege, and Missing-you suspect she knows her way around 1970s European Leftism. And she gets all the clichés right, from the hip clothes to the Godardian dialogue. But her real coup is telling this story entirely through the eyes of the willful Anna, whom the incredible Kervel-Bey plays as if she's the last sane person in an otherwise lost world. She chastises, berates, and defuses talk about Salvador Allende and group solidarity with the single-minded bombast of a child who knows her world has been thrown out of whack. It also helps that Kervel-Bey has the greatest fearless scowl since, well, ever.

THE DISC The usual basics: trailer, making-of featurette, some behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes with director commentary, and a short in which some cast members sing "Venceremos," the pro-Allende revolutionary song. A hoot.

E-mail Bret McCabe

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