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The Snows of Kilimanjaro

(Les neiges du Kilimandjaro)

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Robert Guédiguian
Country of origin and year
France 2011
107 minutes
Rated 15 - Contains strong language and threat
Cast: Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Gérard Meylan, Marilyne Canto, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet.

French with English subtitles

Nothing to do with the Hemingway story, this is firmly rooted in Robert Guédiguian’s familiar Marseille neighbourhood – the setting for almost all his work. Jean-Pierre Darroussin is Michel, a veteran trade unionist who pulls his own name out of the hat when the men draw lots for forced redundancies. Friends and family rally round and come up with enough money to send Michel and Marie-Claire (Ariane Ascaride) on a vacation to Africa – but their plans are derailed when two masked men break in, tie them up and make off with the cash. Michel recognises one of the assailants – but can a good socialist condemn a poor man for doing what he must to provide for his loved ones?

Inspired by Victor Hugo’s poem 'How Good Are the Poor?' (no better than they can afford to be, evidently), Guédiguian’s film also brings to mind that old chestnut: a liberal is a conservative who hasn’t been mugged yet. Michel bucks that stereotype, but alienates his friends in doing so. This is liberal humanist cinema with steel as well as sentiment.

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This is a film about taking the time to see the bigger picture. … This beautifully performed film earns all its impressive emotional moments... It's made with a sure and steady hand that never takes shortcuts with its important message. (Guardian, Phelim O’Neill)

Robert Guédiguian’s affecting blend of social grit and domestic tenderness steers clear of sentimentality. (The Telegraph, Marc Lee)

the film succeeds both as ethical enquiry and as populist, politically intelligent drama. (Time Out, Geoff Andrew)

This heart-warming and socially conscious French drama is poignantly beautiful with a standout lead performance from director Robert Guediguian’s muse, Ariane Ascaride. (View London, Jennifer Tate)

Cannes film Festival 2011
Gent IFF (2011)
Valladolid FF (2011)
Stockholm IFF 2011
Hong Kong IFF (2012)



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