J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

First Look ’18: The Exiled

In France, Marcelo Novais Teles has famous friends. Here in America, they would be considered prestigious or well-connected. By far, the best known is Mathieu Amalric, the former Bond villain. They knew each other from way back, but Teles never really caught like his friends. Nevertheless, he has been on the French scene for years, as his home movies will attest in The Exiled, which screens during this year’s First Look at the Museum of the Moving Image.

Teles first came to France in 1982. He quickly decided to stay to learn French and pursue an acting career. Of course, there was also that military regime back in Brazil, but they left power in 1985, yet he still stayed in Paris. In fact, it seems like very little has changed for him since 1982.

In the assembled home movies, we see Teles and his circle of friends rehearse, run lines, host dinner parties, talk about failed love affairs, and just generally drink. Many of them had success, like Amalric and his wife Jeanne Balibar. Olivier Broche is best known in France for his television work, but that is still not bad for a former struggling artist. Isabelle Ungaro has more imdb credits as a casting director than an actress, but there are probably plenty of people in the French film industry who will be curious to watch her during her early professional years.

Unfortunately, Teles could very well be the least interesting of the bunch. He is also the saddest. A clear picture emerges of a man alienated from his family and homeland, who is still scuffling by, despite work that presumably comes his way through Amalric and Ungaro. Having long suspected he fathered his former Brazilian lover’s first daughter, he now satisfies his paternal instincts by being his friends always-available babysitter.

Fans of Amalric (who can be charmingly manic at post-screening Q&A’s) will be happy to see he remains true blue throughout. He also serves as the film’s producer. However, viewers’ interest in the film will be directly proportional to their familiarity with the other actors in his orbit. How curious are you to see Broche before he landed his signature role on the hybrid sitcom-sketch comedy show Les Deschiens? Frankly, this film can be a little dull and surprisingly depressing. Recommended only for Amalric fanatics, The Exiled screens this Saturday (1/13), as part of First Look 2018, at MoMI.

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