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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Pieds nus sur les limaces (Barfuss auf Nacktschnecken) (Barefoot on slugs)

Starts May 5

French director Fabienne Berthaud calls this a “family story.” Lily (Ludivine Sagnier) and Clara (Diane Kruger) are sisters who couldn’t be more different, a situation that becomes serious when their mother dies, leaving Lily alone in the beautiful, old house in the French countryside. Lily has no problem with this, as she is a true nature child and lover of animals (including the slugs in the title). She knows no limits and impulsively follows her instincts of the moment, whether it is painting the toenails of the pet turkey, sleeping with a young village boy, decorating the mother’s grave, or wrapping colored ribbons around the forest trees.

Older, responsible Clara gives Lily into the hands of neighbor Mireille, who soon loses patience, so that Clara must leave her lawyer husband Pierre at home in Paris, come to the countryside, and look after this spacey sister. Clara has her hands full with Lily’s escapades; her frustration becomes so intense that she almost kills her own sister in the bathtub. Slowly, however, Lila’s influence spreads to Clara and she begins to relax and enjoy the moment, even to the point of entertaining three strangers, Jonas, Dan, and Seb who are touring the area, collecting used clothing for the Red Cross. They spend the night, Clara with Jonas, who, I’ll admit, is one gorgeous guy (Jean-Pierre Martins). The ending is somewhat a surprise, in spite of all the clues.

Director Berthaud said that she got the idea after seeing a young girl as a patient in a clinic where she was making her first film Frankie (which also starred Diane Kruger). The acting is fine, but the main actor is the beautiful sunshiny French weather. There was not one cloudy, rainy day. Sagnier and Kruger run around barefoot, always in light, billowing summer dresses. This becomes a bit repetitious, so that 20 minutes shorter would have helped. Received the Art Cinema Award in the 2010 Cannes film festival.

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