Bored? Missing blockbuster movies?  Well dust off the credit card, prepare for popcorn and browse the more than twenty (yes, that’s 20) films offered in this year’s French Film Festival.

There’s a movie for absolutely everyone – animation (The Swallows of Kabul), mystery/thriller (The Translators), comedy (How to be a Good Wife – take note Desperate Housewife watchers), drama (In the Name of the Land-who knew that France had rural/land issues too), thriller (Only the Animals-time) etc etc.  Luckily the festival runs until 4 August.  So that’s approximately one movie each day. Are you up for the challenge? I’m going to do my best.

My first choice is The Translators.  I love me a film about books or with some literary aspect. And The Translators has that in buckets.

The third book of a best-selling Daedalus trilogy, is about to be released.  The world has been waiting for The Man Who Did Not Want to Die because it contains the solution and wraps up the series. Think Harry Potter. Much secrecy abounds; there are millions of euros at stake after all.

Nine people are hired to simultaneously translate the book –piecemeal, 10 pages a time – for the international release. They are spirited away to a fabulous chateau and are locked in an uber secure basement (aka bunker) that has every luxury one could need, except for the menacing Russian guards that is. No phones, no internet, no contact with outside world until their translations are complete. But from the outset something is awry—who is the author of the trilogy?

Within hours the publisher receives a text: the first 10 pages will be released online unless a huge ransom is paid. But how? The only copies of the manuscript are in the bunker. The translators turn on each other and tension mounts. Everyone is a suspect.

For the more literary-inclined there are plenty of several book references too – look for at least six. For film buffs there are plenty of echoes too; there’s even a high-speed chase a la The French Connection. There are so many plot twists, it will keep you guessing to the end. I missed the solution by a mile – which I appreciate. The acting is great and the direction tight. If you like a whodunnit, locked-room mystery then this is the film for you.

Pass the popcorn – the next film I’m off to see is The Mystery of Henri Pick.

French Film Festival 2020 runs until August 4. Participating cinemas: Palace Barracks and Palace James Street

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