French Film White as Snow is an Awkward French Fairytale Nightmare that Just Wouldn't End
THE OPAL CLUB x TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
Consider it a bad sign for the film as a whole if an entire theater laughs at every single intimate, breathy, and very French sex scene.
That is precisely what happened at Tribeca Film Festival’s press premiere of Anne Fontaine’s White as Snow (Blache Comme Neige). To be fair, the theater was full of press critics whose veins throb with sarcasm, irony, and the ability to take nothing (and yet everything) seriously. The laughter that erupted in the theater after one character very seriously whispered, "You’re so pure, I love you,” was unlike any during the rest of the Tribeca Film Festival.
Nonetheless, the film, whose trailer makes it look like a French fairytale dreamscape nestled somewhere between the enchanting La belle et la bête and the moody and gorgeous La Belle Personne, is embarrassingly tacky and is seemingly equivalent of whatever a French Lifetime movie about being just oh so young, horny, and beautiful . Yes, it is presented as an “erotic comedy”, but no one was laughing at the scenes that were clearly supposed to be funny (squirrels watching you fuck in a car, hilarious!), so that made for an even more awkward experience. You might say that I misunderstood, and that the humor was hidden in the original language, but I will stop you right there and preface the rest of this review by saying that I speak French fluently, so not one tongue-in-cheek French joke was lost on me.
Is it just me, or are we all tired of a female character’s whole fucking personality being “beautiful beyond reason so that everyone just falls in love with her”. I thought we got over that with Bella Swan. And then with Anastasia Steele. Granted, the movie made it glaringly obvious that the arc of the main character was that she went from no-personality to very-into-sex/post-orgasm glowing because she started fucking all the men in the mystical mountains. (Absolutely no slut shaming here - but come on, to make that the only changing characteristic of an already boring #HowToBeParisian-esque vintage-fetish Instagram French girl archetype?)
It’s sincerely hard to believe this movie was written and directed by women. I saw that a couple of reviews insinuate that the film could somehow be categorized as feminist and “sexually empowering” (albeit critiquing the whole damn thing anyway). Which makes absolutely no sense to me. I am not surprised, though, because - and if you haven’t realized this yet - the reviews were written by men and the theater was filled with 95% middle-aged male reporters. There’s some behind the scenes for ya!
The film is a bad dream-logic faerie tale that has very little do with reality…yet is also very much set in “reality” making the balance between fable and self-categorized erotic comedy particularly painful. There is fog and blue mist and overlapping narratives and a cerebral understanding of what’s going on that makes some sense only if your logic doesn’t intervene. For example, Claire gets kidnapped while running alone and eventually ends up in some man’s house. You’d think that running alone alongside an empty road would pose some kind of a traumatic experience that she would have to deal with to reclaim her freedom and her body. Nah, the damn empty-eyed French girl just keeps running alone all the time, unfazed. (My actual notes read: “She goes running again, hops of a sketchy priest’s bike, and goes somewhere! WTF!!”)
I’m also so tired of the whole “Pure, sexy, gorgeous girl is attracted to the most basic, boring, and unattractive men” thing. You’d seriously think that some Harvey Weinstein type screenwriter wrote the script and cast the men. Not to mention that the semi-consensual sex scenes were the main (and longest) plot points of the film.
The only good part of the movie was Isabelle Huppert’s “evil stepmother”. She was so good, in fact, that she did not fit in the movie at all. It was as if she was cut in from a completely different film. For some reason, it seemed like she was blackmailed into doing this godawful movie and was trying to make the best of it. The only powerful scenes were the ones where she was featured. She brought gravity and depth to every word, and for that, I thank her. No one would be able to get through this disaster without her magnetic presence on screen.
In summary, imagine a really slow, awkward, and nonsensical French 80s softcore porn version of Snow White. There, you’ve seen Blache Comme Neige. No need to waste time on it, I’ve wasted two hours of my life on it for you. Want to watch something French and sexy and beautiful? Cannot recommend Jeune & Jolie enough. Or, if you’re having a girl’s night in and you want to get wasted and laugh your ass over something, please do watch Blache Comme Neige. It will be even funnier after a couple of glasses of wine.
To end this, I would like to quote my film notes, “What is this fucking movie”.