Jealousy is an affliction that many people admit to feeling, but in the Brisbane French Film Festival‘s Jalouse it evolves into a much bigger problem, infecting every relationship explored throughout the film.  

Written and directed by brothers David and Stéphane Foenkinos, the film is about Nathalie, a divorced teacher who finds herself to be jealous of her friends, family and colleagues. What starts as a few insignificant comments made in jest, evolves into bigger actions that culminate in an incident that derails Nathalie’s life. It is such a simple premise for a story but has such a profound impact on screen. The film immediately sets the tone as a dark comedy as Nathalie’s bitterness infects every conversation with her daughter, her ex, her friends and her colleagues.   

Lead actress, Karin Viard, has perfect comedic timing that engages the audience from her first line. Her expressions and delivery immediately immerse you into her world and, although our protagonist works against herself as an antagonist, the audience still wants to see her succeed and have her redeemable moment. 

The brothers’ collaborative efforts of both directing and writing for the film works wonderfully as the cinematography is not only beautiful to watch, but the script is also engaging from the very beginning and holds the attention of its audience throughout.    

The film makes you question – if there is someone toxic in your life, how long should you help them before you realise they are a lost cause? Can they truly come back and redeem themselves for their actions? Do they truly deserve forgiveness?  Can we help those who do not believe they truly need it or do we break the ties and let those we love suffer alone?  

The film was immediately followed by a panel moderated by The University of Queensland lecturer Dr Joe Hardwick and included Jalouse’s director and writer David Foenkinos, CEO of Screen Queensland, Tracey Vieira and Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre, Sam Strong. The panel focused on adaptations and how to approach adapting either a film or another medium from a developed piece of work such as a novel.

Mr Foenkinos is no stranger to adaptations, as he has adapted his own books to films, and recognises the importance of bringing something very internal to a visual medium. “You can never turn a book to a movie in completely the same way,” he said. “When you are a reader, each time you read a book you create your own movie so when you see the movie, you are always feeling frustrated because it’s not your movie.”

Ms Vieira discussed popular books that have spanned film franchises such as the Harry Potter and Twilight series, and how difficult it can be to maintain creative control when the author’s have such strong fanbases. Mr Foenkinos, states that it is better to adapt an unknown book because when making an adaptation, as a director, you have to be free from the book.

The French Film Festival is on at the Palace Barracks and Palace Centro cinemas until Wednesday 4 April 2018.

Readers also enjoyed this review of Queensland Theatre’s 39 Steps.