B.O. Has Heart Set on Breaking Record By Pamela McClintock The domestic box office is

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1 Daily Page 1 of 8 Inside: movie ticket prices reach all-time high PAge 2 indie kiss me embraces cast PAge 3 berlin opens with farewell PAge 4 lionsgate taps prod n head PAge 5 movie review: the vow PAge 7 B.O. Has Heart Set on Breaking Record By Pamela McClintock The domestic box office is expected to generate another stellar performance this weekend, led by Rachel McAdams-Channing Tatum Valentine s Day entry The Vow from Screen Gems. Between The Vow, Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds action-thriller Safe House, 3D rerelease of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace and Dwayne Johnson starrer Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, ticket sales could hit a record high and best the $154.4 million earned in 2009 on the weekend before Valentine s Day. Tracking for The Vow is through the roof, impressing even rival studios. Interest in the romantic drama is strongest among younger females, followed by older females. Box-office pundits believe The Vow has a good shot at earning $30 million over the weekend, and the pic is expected to see a spike on Valentine s Day. Box-office observers believe the film has a good shot at hitting $30 million for the weekend, and it should see a spike on Tuesday, Valentine s Day. The strength of The Vow prompted Fox to reverse its plans to open This Means War on Valentine s Day. Instead, Fox is only sneaking the action-comedy on Tuesday, and then waiting to officially debut the movie next Friday. see page 2

2 Page 2 of 8 box office news FROM page 1 From Universal, Safe House could edge out Fox s Phantom Menace. Safe House is tracking to open in the $25 million range, while Phantom Menace is eyeing a weekend gross in the $20 million-$25 million range. On Thursday, advance ticket sales for The Vow on Fandango surpassed sales for Phantom Menace, representing 40 percent of all tickets sold, compared to 37 percent for Phantom Menace. Phantom Menace the first title in George Lucas franchise to be rereleased in 3D should play like a family film (fathers and sons), potentially taking eyeballs away from New Line and Warner Bros. sequel Journey 2, which is expected to gross $12 million- $15 million, a softer range than anticipated. In 2008, Journey to the Center of the Earth opened to $21 million domestically on its way to earning $101.7 million in North America and $140.3 million overseas. Journey 2, featuring Johnson this time instead of Brendan Fraser, has already earned a stellar $41.5 million overseas. Movie Ticket Prices reach record High By Alex Ben Block Going to the movies has never been more expensive. Ticket prices in the U.S. hit an all-time high in 2011, according to numbers re- leased Thursday to The Holly wood Reporter by the National Association of Theater Owners. The price of admission rose last year to $7.93 from $7.89 in The high comes despite the average price for a ticket dropping slightly, to $7.83, in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to NATO. The lower fourth-quarter average is believed to reflect a slower pace of business, especially for 3D movies, which carry a higher price. The average cost for a movie ticket in the U.S. has risen every year since 1992, according to NATO statistics, when it was $4.15. It has been above the $7 mark since The steady rise in the price of movie tickets often greater than inflation corresponds with big changes in the movie business. For Hollywood studios, the switch to mostly blockbuster tentpole movies has raised production costs and pushed up marketing expenses, which often reach as high as $70 million worldwide to publicize and distribute the biggest movies. For exhibitors, the cost of building new multiplex theaters and, more recently, switching to digital projection and sound, has been a factor in the rising costs. The recent proliferation of 3D movies also has led to higher ticket prices. Most theaters include a surcharge of about $3 per ticket to see a film in 3D. In 2011, there were more 3D releases than ever, but the average take for a 3D movie was down from the previous year. Canada represented 26 percent of the North American market for Tintin in December, according to Rentrak, and most of that came in Quebec. Tintin scores Win in Quebec By Etan Vlessing TORONTO The Adventures of Tintin bowing in Quebec two weeks before its Dec. 21 wide release in the rest of North America paid off for Paramount Pictures and exhibitors in the Frenchspeaking province. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson s animated big-screen adaptation of Hergé s The Adventures of Tintin book series debuted in Quebec on Dec. 9. Hollywood films released in Canada usually represent eight to 11 percent of North American box office. But Canada, according to Rentrak, represented 26 percent of the North American market for Tintin in December, or $9.2 million out of total box office of $35.6 million. And most of that play came in Quebec. In Quebec, [Tintin] was a superstar, Ellis Jacob, CEO of Cineplex, Canada s biggest exhibitor, said Thursday. There s no surprise in the Quebec outperformance, really, after the tentpole opened strongly in France and elsewhere in Europe. But it turns out Spielberg s 3D treatment of the European comic-book tale was not as beloved in Englishspeaking Canada, and didn t come close to its international performance in the U.S. market, where the Tintin cartoon character isn t as well known. Up to Feb. 2, Quebec still represented 13 percent of the domestic box office for Tintin, or $9.6 million of its $73.6 million cume. During Cineplex s latest financial quarter to Dec. 31, the biggest box-office performers for the theater chain were The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, which accounted for 9.4 percent of its Q4 ticket receipts, and Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, which made up 6.1 percent of box-office revenue. That performance helped lift Cineplex Q4 earnings to $10.9 million, up 150 percent from $4.4 million in 2010, on total revenue of $241.7 million, a 0.5 percent increase over the same period a year earlier. thr

3 Page 3 of 8 movie news Fischer, Wilson Cozy Up to Kiss Me By Borys Kit Jenna Fischer, Rita Wilson, Emily Osment, Steven Weber and Davenia McFadden have joined the cast of Kiss Me, an indie comingof-age drama that is serving as a return to the director s chair of longtime Survivor host Jeff Fischer Probst. The quintet join Sarah Bolger and John Corbett in the pic, written by Wilson Liz Sarnoff (Lost). The project begins shooting this month in L.A. The story tracks a teen named Zoe (Bolger), forced to wear a back brace to deal with her scoliosis as she navigates relationships with her mother, her best friend and a married man (Corbett) whose kids she babysits. Fischer plays Corbett s wife, whose kindly attitude toward Zoe changes when she discovers a relationship between the girl and her husband. Wilson plays Zoe s mom, who parents with tough love, ultimately pushing the girl to seek affection elsewhere. Weber portrays the girl s father. Osment plays Zoe s friend, living with the secret pain of an abusive and alcoholic father, and McFadden plays a nurse. Probst is producing along with Katy Wallin of Mystic- Art Pictures and John J. Kelly. Fischer, repped by WME and Odenkirk Provissiero Entertainment, is one of the stars of NBC s The Office and appeared in last year s feature comedy Hall Pass. Wilson, coming off an arc on CBS The Good Wife, is repped by CAA. Osment appears on Disney XD s Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil and is repped by Coast to Coast Talent. Weber, who did an arc on TNT s Falling Skies, is repped by UTA and Brillstein Entertainment. McFadden has appeared in such movies as Smokin Aces and Honeydripper and is repped by Don Buchwald & Associated/Fortitude. Legendary Pulls Plug on Paradise By Borys Kit Paradise Lost, Legendary Pictures big-budget, special effects-laden take on the John Milton classic poem, has been shut down. The film was to have been directed by Alex Proyas and to have starred Bradley Cooper as Lucifer. The rest of the cast included Djimon Hounsou, Casey Affleck, Benjamin Walker, Camilla Belle and Rufus Sewell. The project couldn t overcome, according to sources, two hand-in-hand challenges: budget and special effects. The budget was more than $120 million and was responsible for one postponement already. Legendary has been looking to make Cooper more films on its own and away from the slate-financing business that had been its bread and butter. The company is in production on Guillermo del Toro s Pacific Rim and is developing supernatural fantasy Seventh Son. But Legendary is realizing it needs to be more fiscally prudent in the pics it greenlights. Legendary also realized that in order to effectively bring to life Milton s war between heaven and hell, it was going to need Avatar-like special effects. But Avatarlike effects call for an an Avatar-like budget, and executives realized the technology wasn t there to make the film in the budget range in which they were working. thr

4 Page 4 of 8 berlin news Politics Take Center Stage for Fest Opener By Scott Roxborough BERLIN Politics were at the forefront at the openingnight gala of the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, which kicked off Thursday night with the red-carpet premiere of Benoit Jacquot s Farewell, My Queen, starring Diane Kruger as Marie Antoinette and rising star Lea Seydoux as the Queen s reader. After the film s press screening Thursday morning, many drew parallels between Farewell s plot the collapse of the corrupt royal court on the eve of the French revolution and the events of the Arab Spring. German culture minister Bernd Neumann made the connection explicit, opening the Berlinale with a call for solidarity with ordinary citizens in Arab dictatorships who are fighting for change. He recalled that it was exactly a year ago that the citzens of Egypt overthrew their corrupt regime. The political angle could help Farewell in Berlin, where the festival jury (headed this year by U.K. director Mike Leigh) tends to favor films with a political message. But it is the film s speculation that Marie Antoinette may have been a lesbian that will likely grab headlines. The sexuality aspect could Sean Gallup/Getty Images German culture minister Bernd Neumann speaks Thursday during the opening ceremony of the Berlin International Film Festival. play well for Cohen Media Group, who picked up U.S. rights for the film from French sales agent Elle Driver just ahead of its world premiere in Berlin. Attracting the attention of local film fans who braved snow and freezing temperatures to crowd the red carpet were Farewell s stars Kruger and Seydoux, along with VIP jury members Jake Gyllenhaal and directors Anton Corbijn and Francois Ozon. Another famous face spotted in the crowd was Berlinale regular Christopher Lee. The biggest names, however, are expected in the coming days, when stars such as Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen, Robert Pattinson and Uma Thurman will grace Berlin s frigid red carpet over the next 10 days. Spwa taking aim at Guns By Pamela McClintock BERLIN In one of the largest deals likely to come out of the European Film Market, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions is negotiating to pick up rights to most of the world for Denzel Washington-Mark Wahlberg starrer 2 Guns. Universal has U.S. distribution rights to the project, which is being Washington shopped at EFM by Mark Damon s Foresight Films. Contraband s Baltasar Kormakur Wahlberg is directing the film, which reteams him with Wahlberg. The market only got under way Thursday, Kormakur and by midday, the comic-book adaptation was drawing heated interest among foreign distributors, but by the day s end, Sony Worldwide had emerged the front-runner. The company is expected to get distribution rights to most international territories. Based on the Boom! Studios graphic novel by writer Steven Grant and artist Mat Santolouco, the story revolves around an undercover naval intelligence officer and DEA agent who are unwittingly pitted against each other. Buyers Circle Better Living By Stuart Kemp BERLIN Better Living Through Chemistry a sex, drugs and possibly murder romp co-directed and cowritten by Geoff Moore and David Posamentier and starring Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Judi Dench and Michelle Monaghan has found itself at the center of a flurry of pre-sale deal memos. U.K. sales and finance label Ealing Metro International said the Prescienceand Aegis-bankrolled movie has sold throughout Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa with E1 taking Australia and New Zealand and Jaguar handling airline rights as the EFM gets into full swing. The script details the story of a straight-laced pharmacist who stumbles upon life s darker side when he embarks on an affair with a dangerously seductive customer. Occupant Entertainment s Joe Neurauter, Felipe Marino and Keith Calder will produce the pic. ICM is handling domestic sales duties. Ealing Metro International is jointly owned by Ealing Studios, and film financier Prescience. Through Prescience and its Aegis Film Fund, Ealing Metro works with independent producers to help develop and finance projects to add to its sales slate. thr Click here for THR s Berlin Festival Dailies.

5 Page 5 of 8 business news Feig Named Prod n Chief at Lionsgate By Alex Ben Block In the wake of its acquisition of Summit Entertainment, Erik Feig has been named president, production, for the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. Feig reports to his former bosses at Summit, Rob Feig Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, who were recently named Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chairmen. Feig will oversee development and production of movies for both Lionsgate and Summit, which are being kept as separate labels, at least for now. He will work closely with Jason Constantine, president, acquisitions and co-productions for Lionsgate, on theatrical coproductions and acquisitions. Erik has been instrumental to Summit s success over the past decade and we look forward to continuing our relationship with him in this new chapter, Friedman and Wachsberger said in a statement. With his incredible eye for films with global appeal and his ever-growing list of accomplishments, we are fortunate to have such a talented individual working on our team. Feig most recently was president, worldwide production and acquisitions at Summit. Pics developed under his tenure include The Twilight Saga, Source Code and Letters to Juliet. During that time, the studio also acquired domestic distribution rights to Oscar winner The Hurt Locker. Summit also acquired during his tenure A Better Life, starring Demian Bichir, who is an Oscar nominee for best actor. Berry tapped as CFO at caa Staff report CAA has appointed Jeff Berry as chief financial officer, the agency announced on Thursday. Berry, who since 2009 was CFO of publicly-traded cosmetics company Physicians Berry Formula Holdings, will oversee the agency s finance and accounting functions, as well as play a role in strategic planning. Jeff s depth and breadth of financial experience will be invaluable to us as we continue to grow, said CAA managing partner Michael Rubel in a statement. q3 Revenue up at Cinedigm By Alex Ben Block Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp., which has been reinvented in the past year under new CEO Chris Mc- Gurk, reported revenue for the third quarter which ended Dec. 31, 2011, was up 23 percent to $19.8 million. While the McGurk public company s stock actually dropped 14 cents on Thursday in advance of that earnings news, it has recently been rising. Cinedigm shares have jumped from $1.36 on Jan. 9 to $2.06 on Thursday. That is the highest they have been since April 21, While revenue is up, mostly from an increase in the number of movie theaters that Cinedigm is converting to digital, the company still had a loss for the quarter of $10.7 million. That compared to a loss of $4.2 million in the same quarter one year earlier. For the first nine months of its fiscal year, Cinedigm reported revenue from continuing operations rose 37 percent to $58.9 million, compared to $43.1 million in the same period a year earlier. Since McGurk took charge just over a year ago, he has concentrated on key business units including digital conversion, specialized software for distribution and exhibition and increasingly, producing and distributing content to movie theaters for special-event programming. On Jan. 23, Cinedigm announced a partnership with New Video Group to acquire and exploit independent films. In just one year s time, we have transformed Cinedigm to more aggressively monetize the worldwide digital cinema explosion, said McGurk in a statement. We are very pleased that our strong third-quarter operational results and financial performance reflect the progress we ve made. Sirius Swings to Q4 Profit By Georg Szalai NEW YORK Sirius XM Radio on Thursday reported improved fourth-quarter financials and said it hit a record subscriber count of 21.9 million at the end of The satellite radio firm posted quarterly earnings Karmazin of $71.3 million, compared with a year-ago loss of $81.4 million. Revenue rose 7 percent to $784 million as the company added 542,966 net subscribers in the fourth quarter, up from 328,789 in the year-ago period. Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin lauded another record-setting year in For 2012, he forecast growth in revenue, adjusted operating cash flow and subscribers. Net subscriber additions should hit 1.3 million this year, Sirius projected. thr

6 Page 6 of 8 spotlight Star Wars Lucas Preaches 3D Conversion By Alex Ben Block It mighty seem like a nobrainer, but the decision to convert the six Star Wars pics into 3D wasn t an easy one for producer, director, writer and film mogul George Lucas. For Lucas, it was never just about finding another way to exploit the same films that have already been in theaters several times (grossing more than $4.4 billion in worldwide box office since 1977) and on home video (where they have raked in more than $3.8 billion). The biggest reason to do it, Lucas told The Hollywood Reporter, was to give a new generation an opportunity to see the movies on the big screen in a theater, the way he always intended. Star Wars is one of those films old films that was designed for the big screen, he said. It makes a big difference to see it on the big screen with the overwhelming sound, the picture and now 3D. We ve had two generations be able to see it on the big screen and it was great. Now kids who have never seen it on the big screen, who have no idea how powerful it was because all they had was DVD have that chance. Whether there is still a huge market for pics widely available on video, cable and free TV for years will be clear today when Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom The 3D rerelease of Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace opens today in more than 2,500 theaters in North America. Menace opens in more than 2,500 North American theaters in 3D and in selected countries around the world. The plan, said Lucas, is to release one Star Wars movie each year for the next five years. While some believe Menace is one of the weakest in the series and a poor choice to kick off the rerelease, he believes the Lucas films should be seen in the order that he has assigned them (though they were made and released in a different order). Until 2005, Lucas said he wasn t a giant fan of 3D. The process was very difficult, and it wasn t something that I felt that much affection for. I just didn t think the effect was worth it. It was all about the effects and putting everything right out there. The idea of going to a movie and having peo- ple stick things in your face just because of an effect or the trick of it wasn t really that interesting to me. In 2005, Lucas joined fellow film directors including James Cameron and Robert Zemeckis at a presentation at the ShoWest movie exhibitors convention in Las Vegas to convince the people who own and run theaters to make the multimillion-dollar conversion from analog film projection to digital. To help make the point, Lucas oversaw the conversion of 10 minutes of one of the Star Wars pics to digital 3D. His point to theater owners was that 3D, which can bring new audiences and justify higher ticket prices, is only possible after they make the switch to digital. To his surprise, when he saw the 10 minutes on a theater screen, he said to himself, Hey, this actually looks better. This is actually more interesting to me. The three-dimension is actually the better way of looking at things, he recalled. So I got converted at that point. During the next couple of years, Lucasfilm s specialeffects company Industrial Light & Magic moved into digital animated 3D production, which added to Lucas knowledge, but he said he still wasn t ready. Then he saw what Cameron had done with Avatar in 3D and had a revelation. I realized that movies that have a lot of CG characters worked a lot better in 3D because the CG characters actually became real, he said. Lucas had been frustrated when he had to use puppet models, or even with CG in live-action pics, because the result never seemed quite real. But after Avatar, Lucas went on to redo the character of Yoda for the Blu-ray rerelease of Menace in December (it is that version that has been converted to 3D for the theatrical rerelease). Lucas said he has no qualms about making changes in his movies if he thinks that will make them better, which has caused controversy at times among fans of the films who want them to be exactly the same each time they watch. Lucas can do as he wishes because he is not only director, producer and writer on most of the movies, but also owns the company that holds the copyright on the pics. So he is both the financier and the creative director. Lucas said there were those who wanted him to release all six movies in 3D at once. I said, This won t sustain for six years doing it that way, he said. Everyone will go to the first one or two and pretty soon you ll be spending a lot of money and not having a lot of people come see the movie. I wanted to do it every year, and I wanted to make something that was reliable. I wanted to put the same amount of effort into each conversion. It takes about nine months to do it. thr

7 Page 7 of 8 movie review The Vow By Todd McCarthy Anyone who s previously been exposed to the work of screenwriters Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein will know what to expect from The Vow. Fans who lapped up the prefab boy-girl inanities of He s Just Not That Into You, Valentine s Day and Never Been Kissed will likely fall for it, while those who suffered through any of the above would rather do latrine duty during a diarrhea outbreak than be subjected to this, their blood relation. Screen Gems slow, sincere romantic concoction cannot conceal what it is, a commodity manufactured to be sold to a very specific audience for Valentine s Day. Women supposedly get to call the shots on what film to see on this holiday, and enough will pick this to make it click at the box office. But good luck to the young men who get roped into going. The Vow has the benefit of being based on a true story (a postscript shot reveals big surprise that the couple in question look nothing like Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum), but its melodramatic premise more than anything resembles soapy tearjerkers of the 30s and 40s in which incredibly extreme predicaments prevented lovers from being together or mothers from holding on to their children. Such heart-tuggers have their appeal to some people in any era, but earnest hokum of this nature has become increasingly rare. And for a reason. In the lulling opening scene, lovebirds Paige (Mc- Adams) and Leo (Tatum) emerge from the beautiful old Chicago cinema the Music Box on an enchanting snowy night, get in their car and are promptly rammed from behind by a truck, sending Paige flying through the windshield (in extremely slow motion). Cut to four years earlier and the beginning of the Paige-Leo love story, which is cute enough, particularly when they marry surreptitiously in a gallery of the Art Institute of Chicago (where she s a student). But back in the present, trumped-up conflict arrives at the hospital in the form of Paige s longabsent parents (Sam Neill, Jessica Lange), rich old prigs who try to use the excuse of their daughter s memory loss of her more recent years she hasn t a clue who Leo is to pry her away from her husband and bring her back to their Lake Forest nest. The key to the film for dreamy-eyed girls ready, willing and anxious to capitulate is that Leo is truly in love with Paige. Reluctantly agreeing to return to their (very expensively appointed) Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams face the proposition of getting reacquainted in The Vow. downtown loft to see if a reintroduction to her old routine will begin to jar her memory loose, Paige isn t even jolted into recognition by the sight of her hunky husband naked. But Leo perseveres and, through all manner of rejection, trouble from her parents and a downturn at the recording studio he runs, he dedicates himself to the proposition that, I ve got to make my wife fall in love with me again. In due course, he asks her out on a first date, gets her to skinny dip in Lake Michigan and accompanies her back to their old haunt, Cafe Mnemonic (ha-ha). She still can t remember Leo, who waits patiently and chastely (but often without his shirt on) through it all, even when Paige has no trouble remembering her high school amour Jeremy (Scott Speedman), whom she jilted but who wants to take advantage of the unusual situation to snatch his prize back from Leo s grasp. In his big-screen feature debut, Michael Sucsy, who made his name with the HBO dramatization of Grey Gardens, directs with computerlike precision; every composition and cut is made with its calculated effect readily evident. Particularly egregious are the countless music cues for the pale pop songs, on each one of which you can feel the button being pushed for the desired emotional effect. It s hard to know how a woman is supposed to behave if she has a several-years memory gap, but McAdams makes this one pretty spunky, if clueless of what to make of this muscled guy who has nothing but great things to say about her and the times they had together. While limited in range, to be sure, Tatum is actually OK with what he has to do; he never strains to achieve something he s not able to pull off. Opens: Today (Sony/Screen Gems). Production: Spyglass Entertainment, Birnbaum/Barber. Cast: Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, San Neill, Scott Speedman, Wendy Crewson, Jessica Lange, Jessica McNanee, Tatiana Maslany, Lucas Bryant. Director: Michael Sucsy. Screenwriters: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, Jason Katims, story by Stuart Sender. Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Jonathan Glickman, Paul Taublieb. Executive producers: J. Miles Dale, Austin Hearst, Susan Cooper. Director of photography: Rogier Stoffers. Production designer: Kalina Ivanov. Costume designer: Alex Kavanagh. Editor: Nancy Richardson. Music: Rachel Portman, Michael Brook. Rated PG-13, 104 minutes. thr

8 Page 8 of 8 berlin review Farewell, My Queen By Deborah Young BERLIN A distanced but extraordinarily atmospheric costumer set in the heady (in the sense of pre-guillotined) final days of Versailles amid the commotion of the dawning French Revolution, Farewell, My Queen is a visual joy to watch, even while its tale of a lower class girl at court infatuated with the Queen of France labors to say something relevant. Though helmer Benoit Jacquot opts for the grand European style of Girl With a Pearl Earring rather than a modernist rereading à la Sofia Coppola s post-punk vision Marie Antoinette, the film has its own charm, a matter-offact treatment of lesbianism and magnifique costumes and settings guaranteed to please Upper East Side patrons, all of which suggests a wide art-house release for this lavish French- Spanish co-production. Based on a novel by Chantal Thomas, the concise screenplay traces the routing of France s 18thcentury aristocracy a bit from the perspective of the decadent blue bloods themselves but more often from the p.o.v. of their downstairs maids, who are smartly individualized and believable. Maybe the pic s biggest intuition is casting the brooding, modern face of Lea Seydoux (Inglourious Basterds, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol) in the role of Sidonie Laborde, the haughty young reader to Marie Antoinette who becomes embroiled in the Queen s love affair with Mme. de Polinac (Virginie Ledoyen). Living in the forlorn poverty of the servants quarters, the girl is thrilled to be called into the presence of the beautiful, glamorous Marie Antoinette, played with tearyeyed passion and, yes, more than a touch of laughable frivolity by a charismatic Diane Kruger. When the Queen massages rosewater into the itching mosquito bites on Sidonie s arm, the young girl is sensually captivated. But the relationship is not what she hopes for. So young and already so blind, comments the delightful M. Moreau (Michel Robin), a wise old gent living at court, foreshadowing the film s cruel-as-ice conclusion. Locked in their fantasy world at Versailles, in whose mirrored and gilded halls much of the film was shot, the wiggy nobles go about business as usual: adultery, food, clothes, jewels and embroidery. Jacquot sets the scene in under 20 minutes before the enjoyably idyllic tone changes to one of red alert. Word that things are seriously amiss reaches the court with news that the Royalty has its privileges: Virginie Ledoyen, left, and Diane Kruger in Farewell, My Queen. Bastille has fallen and the rebelling populace is demanding not just bread, but power. In Paris, a list has been drawn up of 286 aristo heads set to roll. And people on the street have not only stopped showing respect for the king, many are waving pitchforks and torches in his direction. It s July 14, 1789, and within days, their world will be turned upside down. While Coppola ruminated on the role of pleasure in life, Jacquot shifts the focus to the relationship between the wildly divergent classes of French society and the way they spy on, fantasize about and interact with each other. The two truly noble souls to emerge are, first of all, the courageous and resourceful Sidonie, whose misplaced loyalty and conscious selfsacrifice distinguish her from a stereotypical romantic heroine; and Louis XVI (Xavier Beauvois in little more than a walk-on role), whose surprising choice to return to Paris on his own and face down the insurrection puts him way above the cowardly fugitives in his court. Lavish, Vermeer-influenced lighting by D.P. Romain Winding stands in interesting formal contrast to the relaxed, constantly moving camerawork which follows Sidonie as she runs and falls awkwardly in her cumbersome gown on breathless errands. Both the eye-catching production design by Katia Wyszkop and unique period costumes by Christian Gasc and Valerie Ranchoux will be remembered during awards season. The urgent pace is underscored by a nearly continuous musical comment by Bruno Coulais, which assumes the weight of a ballet score as the dancers, or in this case the cast, rushes to their doom. Venue: Berlin Film Festival (Competition). Production: GMT Productions, Les Films du Lendemain, Morena Films in association with France 3 Cinema, Euro Media France, Invest Image. Cast: Diane Kruger, Lea Seydoux, Virginie Ledoyen, Xavier Beauvois, Noemie Lvovsky, Michel Robin, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Lolita Chammah, Marthe Caufman, Vladimir Consigny. Director: Benoit Jacquot. Screenwriters: Gilles Taurand, Benoit Jacquot, based on a novel by Chantal Thomas. Producers: Jean-Pierre Guerin, Kristina Larsen, Pedro Uriol. Executive producer: Christophe Valette. Director of photography: Romain Winding. Production designer: Katia Wyszkop. Costumes: Christian Gasc, Valerie Ranchoux. Editor: Luc Barnier. Music: Bruno Coulais. Sales: Elle Driver. No MPAA rating, 100 minutes. thr

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