Who could resist the notion of Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins as the heads of a family of small-time grifters — with Westworld’s Evan Rachel Wood as their socially inept daughter? In writer/director Miranda July’s off-kilter family drama, Mom and Dad have raised their daughter as an essential cog in their two-bit heist lifestyle. Then comes an ambitious newcomer (Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez), who topples the family’s low-rent dynamic with dreams of a bigger score. July is a master of the out-of-left-field twist, and her characters are stubbornly endearing.
I usually don’t have much patience for films about how hard it is to be a movie star, but there’s no denying the thrill of seeing the great Catherine Deneuve as a fading screen goddess coming to terms with movie mortality. She plays Fabienne Dangeville, a bygone screen siren who has written her memoirs — a selective account at best. Now her daughter (Juliette Binoche) has come to Paris with her hubby (Ethan Hawke) in tow, fuming because Mom’s book totally sugar-coats her miserable childhood. To make matters worse, Fabienne is currently starring in a cheesy sci-fi flick in which she plays the elderly daughter of a beautiful young mother who never grows old.
In 2014, 20-year-old U.S. filmmaker Charlotte Juergens traveled to France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Her initial intent was to trace the steps of her late great-grandfather, who was part of the Normandy invasion — but she soon became swept up by the stories of the surviving veterans with whom she traveled. In a disarmingly sweet film that is part historical documentary, part home movie, Juergens provides the men with a chance to make one final plea that the world not forget the things they did and saw. She proves to be a charming intermediary: One vet calls her “Dear Heart”; another starts introducing her as his granddaughter.
This article is featured in the July/August 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Featured image: Kajillion (Sundance Institute)
Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now