Wednesday, November 30, 2022

French Movie Mercredi: The Skies of Lebanon (Sous le Ciel d'Alice) (2020)


In the 1950s, a young Swiss woman named Alice comes to Lebanon in search of work and adventure. She dislikes her native country and takes the first opportunity to leave; she is trained to be a nanny and accepts a job offer from a Lebanese family. She only speaks French and Italian and soon meets a handsome Arab man named Joseph; they fall in love and marry, and Alice and Joseph make a life. 

When civil war breaks out in Beirut, the family comes under increasing pressure to emigrate and the movie opens with Alice apparently leaving her husband after much struggle. The flashbacks start out cotton-candy-beautiful, their cardboard and green-screen animated backdrops reflecting Alice's youth, her hopefulness and her excitement at building a new life for herself. Time passes; things get harder but then they might get better too.

I loved this movie a lot. Alba Rohrwacher is so moving and engaging. She reminds me of Julie Delpy, the French star of the Before Midnight series, but older and wiser. Her costar Wajdi Mouawad is charming and sweet. I was rooting for them and their family every step of the way.

I've been waiting for Sous le Ciel d'Alice to hit streaming for a while now and I was happy to be able to watch it finally.  It would be a fine Sunday morning movie. The violence is all off-camera and the ending is sweet and satisfying. Get your tissues ready. 

Note: Alba Rohrwacher is the narrator of the first three seasons of the HBO series My Brilliant Friend and will play Elena in season four. Stay tuned!

Available to stream on multiple platforms.

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