Planetarium: LFF Film Review

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I was intrigued to see Planetarium by Rebecca Zlotowski because it’d never seen Lily-Rose Depp, the daughter of Johnny Depp and French actress Vanessa Paradis, on the big screen nor had I seen Natalie Portman speaking predominantly French in a movie.

They play American sisters Laura and Kate Barlow, who are living in pre-war France and working as mediums. They are invited to perform a seance at the home of film producer Andre (Emmanuel Salinger) and it is clear Kate (Depp) has the supposed talent and her older sister is simply the marketing manager. Andre casts Laura (Portman) as the lead actress in his movie about a medium and they live in his house, while Depp performs seances with him in secret, which seem to be detrimental to their health.

This is an intriguing and infuriating film because it doesn’t pan out in a way you would expect. I thought there would be a greater emphasis on the supernatural elements but it seemed to be more about the relationship between the trio. The premise seemed very exciting but the sense of plot essentially disappears once they move into the home and start the movie. It is also very subtle, understated and abstract so when the producer is accused of something and sent to prison, I didn’t really understand what was happening cos it wasn’t expressly explained.

Portman and Depp both do a fantastic job. Depp is bilingual but she had to act like an American who had just grasped French and Portman, who has a French husband, had to improve her language skills as she is speaking fluent French for most of the movie and she was very convincing. They worked well as sisters, Depp looked exactly like a grumpy, sullen teenager and Portman simply shone.

I just wanted more from this because the premise was so appealing, it had a promising start, two fab lead performances and it looked gorgeous but it just left me wanting more – it didn’t really go anywhere and the unsatisfactory ending ruined the whole thing for me.

Seen as part of the 60th BFI London Film Festival. It is currently without a U.K. release date. 

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