Elles (1997) Poster


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Wishes and a Streetcar Named Love
claudio_carvalho18 April 2010
In Lisbon, the middle-aged TV journalist Linda Lapa (Carmen Maura) is preparing a special program named Three Wishes for her show "Maquillages" (make-up) and interviews her best-friends Eva (Miou-Miou), Barbara (Marthe Keller), Chloé (Marisa Berenson) and Branca (Guesch Patti). Linda has a love affair with the younger director Gigi (Joaquim de Almeida) but she does not allow him to spend the night with her and he has to leave her studio apartment at 3:00 AM maximum. When the young actress Raquel (Mapi Galán) flings over Gigi, Linda feels that she must change her behavior to keep her relationship with her lover. Eva is a widow literature professor with a boy and the passion of her student Luis (Morgan Perez) that is twenty-five years younger than she and son of Barbara. Eva feels desire for Luis but lives a moral dilemma between her lust and their difference of ages. Barbara is hypochondriac and misses her husband Edgar (Didier Flamand), but they have a good relationship and Barbara, her daughter Inês (Marie Guillard) and Luis frequently meets Edgar. When Barbara faints in a store, she discovers that she has an incurable disease. Chloé is a lesbian make-up professional that was addicted in heroin and secretly loves Branca, who is a successful actress and the dysfunctional mother of Rita (Florence Loiret). Along a few days, the female friends discover the importance of unconditional love, friendship and how life must be intensely lived and without fear.

"Elles" is a delightful and intense dramatic romance with the entwined sentimental life of five friends of forty or fifty and something years old. The complex plot successfully develops the characters in 97 minutes running time in the Brazilian version released on VHS by Cult Films distributor. Therefore, the sensitive director and writer Luís Galvão Teles shows a great capability of conciseness. The cast composed of a constellation of stars is wonderful and it would be unfair to highlight one individual performance. The conclusion is marvelous with Linda's wish coming true. This unknown movie is from 1997 and seems to be the source of inspiration to Darren Star to create the famous "Sex and the City" in 1998. The story lines are basically the same in different locations – Lisbon and New York. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Elas" ("They" (in the feminine sense))
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A tribute to the best part of humanity
=G=10 January 2004
"Elles" is a slice-of-european-middleaged-female-life flick with all the beauty and elegance of the best Europics and a cast of some of Europe's brightest female stars. The film wanders through the midlives of a bunch of interconnected women and explores their moments of passion, lust, joy, frustration, jealousy, fear, hope, despair, romance, etc. as it deals with such issues as love, affairs, aging, family, careers, drugs, lesbianism, etc. Sensitive, empathetic, compassionate, playful, wistful, etc., and without a distinct storyline, this film bathes the audience in all the wonders that are women. A fitting treatise and worthy tribute to the gentle gender beyond forty. Recommended for more mature audiences into European films about....um, well, women. (B+)
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Fabulous Film!
mahzeh20 March 2006
This movie is fabulous! The film's vision is pure entertainment! It surpasses the ubiquitous genre of "women's watching." Despite its largely French and female setting, "Elles" has a message for everyone. It doesn't attempt to be profound; it presents life as it may challenge each person, female and male.

The women of this film have stories that are addressed less often than they should be. The humor is clever; the plot is easy to follow. The music is uplifting; the scenes are real and raw. These elements come together, and they set the stage for understanding the dimly-lit journey of unmarried forty-somethings. By the end, even the audience feels like a million Euros.
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5 femmes
jotix10026 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Luis Galvao Teles, who directed, and co-wrote, "Elles", brings together five different women whose lives are inter-connected. We follow them around Lisbon, where we are led to believe, these basically French women have found a home away from home. While the film doesn't ring true from beginning to end, it serves as a vehicle for all these fifty-something actresses that have done much better in their careers, but are now relegated to playing small roles.

Eva, a teacher, falls for one of her students, who happens to be Barbara's son. Barbara discovers she has a medical problem and doesn't want to die alone. Linda loves Gigi, but can't make a commitment to him and makes him leave her bed at 3A.M. every night they spend together. Branca is an actress whose daughter is a drug addict and she is not keen on Chloe, the beautician, who make a lesbian pass at her. Chloe, who has had a drug addiction past, comes to rescue Branca's child from a life of addiction by shooting drugs with the young woman to prove her solidarity.

Telenovela, anyone?

Marthe Keller, Miou-Miou, Carmen Moura, Marisa Berenson, and Guesch Patti, play the five friends. Joaquim de Almeida and Morgan Perez are seen as the love interests of two of the women.

While the film will not add anything to any of the resumes of the people involved, it is a somewhat fun way to spend an hour and a half.
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Pan European light comedy with middle aged & eccentric women
gonz3017 August 2000
A light comedy bringing together some of Europe's former beauties, this film is light fluff in a very contrived Pan-European atmosphere. Lisbon, a romantic city to many (and definitely the cheapest capital in the European Union to film a movie) is the backdrop for this assortment of women, none of which is Portuguese. A couple are Swiss, one Spanish, one American, and one actually is French. But we must assume that it is quite normal that all the characters including the sole Portuguese leading character, their family, friends and co-workers all speak fluent French, not a Portuguese word to be heard. Well, if this is a barrier, be prepared for more. They are all on the wrong side of 40, as advertised everywhere. Why not say 50? At the time of filming all the "women" (except Miou-Miou, who was 47) were over 50, and by now when the film is being released for the first time, they are all in their mid 50s. Yes, they look nice. But forty? The last major hurdle to clear to enjoy the film is to accept the five most popular cliches about older women. A couple are men hungry to the point one even has sex in front of her grown daughter. Another (unlikely) one is an old lipstick lesbian. The teacher has sex with Lisbon students 30 years her junior (who also speak fluent French). And the main, arguably most "normal" character (as played by the Spanish Carmen Maura) has a live-in lover 12 years younger (Joaquim de Almeida). If all these anomalies don't faze you, you may enjoy the film as the light comedy with fading female stars it was intended to be.
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performance and rhythm.
RResende4 April 2010
I don't know how much in this film was self-aware and how much was going on on the back of the director. Of other experiences i've had with this filmmaker's work, i never saw anything that might make me believe i'd see anything as clever as what we have in this film. However, this film is a good experience, a piece which was cleverly allowed to breath to the rhythm of the female performances.

The casting of the 5 leading female characters is the first great thing about this. All of them are more or less attached to a certain cultural (european) background, and in the world of film, each one became linked to a certain type of character. That is used in the writing of this film, and i would say each role was written bearing in mind specifically each of the ladies we see here. For each role there might be 1 or 2 other acceptable actress options, but no more.

The second good thing is how acting types are allowed to play freely. Each woman dominates her scene, and bends the other (male) characters to her own breath, to her own acting rhythm and style, as much as Maura's character bends Joaquim d'Almeida to her lifestyle. The story plays accordingly, since all these women are, or fight for being, masters of their own life. So there's a folding of women trying to live free lives into women's different acting styles, allowed to run wild. This i think was not intentional, but it certainly works.

Another great thing, that proves my last paragraph, are the scenes in which several of these women interact and, remarkably, the one in which the 5 of them, and only them, act together in Maura's home, and actually make a film together! I appreciated the self-reference of the thing. These scenes, specially this at Maura's house, are great because it's in the Lumet or Altman tradition of capturing the breath of each actress's performance. They are allowed to breath and each performance is thrown at each other, so the richness of the scene is in how we compare them.

I'd say the general mood intended for the film was fully based on Almodóvar's film world, thus the Carmen Maura connection. This would be, i think, intentional, and the director looked for it. But he messed that up, and it's good he did, because if he'd insisted to hard on that, he might have wiped out the other great eventually non intentional stuff. But the writing is great, self-aware and fully supportive to the actresses. That's why we have two writing devices that enfold the acting nature of this film:-one of the characters is herself a performer, so she is acting an actor. Her performances are vital points for two dramatic developments in the film (her daughter watching her have sex on stage, and her jealousy towards her friend). -Carmen Maura films her friends, making confessions to the camera. So they are ostensibly framed, and placed speaking to the camera, and thus to us. Great devices.

Lisbon is just a postcard here.

My opinion: 4/5, you should watch this
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Women way past the edge of a nervous breakdown
cesar-527 June 2006
And why should we care? Fake setting (Portugal has a french speaking population?) with 5 fake women characters in search of a real male director. Carmen Maura carries the burden of being forever associated with Almodovar's comedies, so the expectation is she will makes us laugh. Looking like a mini me Mommy Dearest she's never given the chance to break loose and show us what makes her tick the wrong side of intimacy. At times she also looks like an old stable horse forced to chew on French. If middle aged Hollywood actresses have a hard time finding a worthy role, this movie proves that European ones are faring no better: rounded up past their prime into a Portuguese corral with no abbattoir in sight to put them out of their misery, has to be a pretty demoralizing experience. Having no believable plot or a character to root for the mind starts to slide into catty judgments reserved for desperate women of a certain age...Keller has aged better than the rest of the cast but as much as she crunches her face and knocks her forehead against hard surfaces, she still can't shed a tear which is why all her crying fits are shot from the back of her head; Marissa Berenson's surgically enhanced face has left her looking more vacuous than Pinocchio, with an emaciated body that should have stayed inside the bathtub she used in the Barry Lyndon movie; Mioux Mioux still speaks in a grating little girl's voice trapped inside the now little 50 year old me ( a role that Maureen Steenburgen who also speaks like a 5 year old will play in the American version if God doesn't spare us); who trained that chimpanzee to play a drag queen that impersonates the cabaret diva singer? But let me stop. In the end the women's three wishes which is the premise for this campless movie is a cop out even for the screenwriter. No resolutions just fake happy endings. If you want to see more than six women that can act in French then rent Francois Ozon's 8 women for a more satisfying and dignifying experience.
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