Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: Asphalte
France, 2015. La Caméra Deluxe, Maje Productions, Single Man Productions, Emotions Films UK, Jack Stern Productions, Film Factory, Orange Cinema Series, Région Alsace, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Fonds Images de la Diversité, Commission Images de la Diversité, Agence Nationale pour la Cohésion Sociale et l’Egalité des Chances. Screenplay by Samuel Benchetrit. Cinematography by Pierre Aim. Produced by Julien Madon, Marie Savare, Ivan Taieb. Music by Raphael Haroche. Production Design by Jean Moulin. Costume Design by Mimi Lempicka. Film Editing by Thomas Fernandez.
Samuel Benchetrit directs three stories from his first volume of Les Chroniques de l’Asphalte, all set in a run-down suburban apartment building. A loner confined to a wheelchair after an exercise-related accident goes on nightly excursions taking photographs, along the way meeting a sweet nurse (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) on her smoke breaks. A has-been actress (Isabelle Huppert) meets the young man across the hall after locking herself out of her apartment; he helps her with an audition that is essential to her crumbled self-esteem. The best of the three tales has an American astronaut (Michael Pitt) accidentally land on the building’s roof and seek refuge in the home of an elderly French-Algerian woman; NASA tells him to cool his heels for two days while they figure out how to pick him up, forcing him to bunk with a stranger with whom he cannot communicate. The divide these two cross is sweet and endearing, its deeper, relevant themes ensconced so comfortably in the wonderful chemistry that sparks up between them that it feels the least like a literary adaptation of the bunch. That said, seeing Huppert play a bad actor is worth the price of admission, and none of this film is boring or lacking in charisma.