'Roselyne and the Lions (Jean-Jacques Beineix)'
(Isabelle Pasco, Gérard Sandoz, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / (1989) 2006 / Cinema Libre)
Overview: Roselyne and Thierry dream about training wild animals, but no one wants to engage them to do so. Refusal and disappoints follow one after the other until, one day, they are offered a position in a big German circus. However, Roselyne draws the attention of crowds, while Thierry feels that their love relationship is in danger. Only their shared passion for the lions could save them from tragedy.
DVD Verdict: The first thing to realize about this movie is its almost three hour running time! Telling the story of two trainee lion tamers who encounter a magnitude of setbacks, before finally earning a spot at an internationally-renowned circus, 'Roselyne and the Lions' - starring Isabelle Pasco( Roselyne) and Gerard Sandoz (Thierry) - is an incredibly-told film, but overly long on the running time, for sure.
Filmmaker Jean-Jacques Beineix (who started his career as Jean Becker’s assistant director on the famous French TV series, 'Les saintes chéries') does a wonderful job of allowing the audience into, and to understand, and even admire the somewhat alien backdrop to the film's landscape. I mean, seriously, how many other movies have had such a unique title and told such a wonderous tale?
'Roselyne and the Lions' as a film doesn't speed by, which you'd expect from such a long running time, but that storytrelling pace does actually enhance the tale being told by Beineix ten fold. Its overall atmosphere is very well accomplished, the acting abilities of both leads authentic and effective. And sure the three hours cannot contain a wholeness of artistic script that reveals a plotless seqment or three, but in its episodic midsection it can be forgiven for that; with regard its overall desires.
The films main crux point of motivation is when Thierry and Roselyne's decision to hit the road culminates in (and much to Thierry's visible, acting up annoyance), Roselyne quickly becomes the focus of the pair's act within the traveling circus' big ring. But, along the way they first encounter a series of exceedingly quirky figures - that include a rather left-of-center dwarf!
Beineix, who directed his first feature film 'Diva' (which received four César Awards in 1982), couples the story of this wonderful pairing with some truly jaw-dropping overhead shots - in this case, of an expansive rehearsal space - with an end result of a very enjoyable, realy well constructed, cinematic tale told.
Also, the behind-the-scenes look into the training of circus animals is really very fascinating. That said, the sometimes less-than-friendly treatment of the big cats to get them to 'perform' is rather painful to watch, and makes you think twice about clapping for them to stand on their back two legs next time you find yourself at the circus! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, and comes with the Special Features of:
The Grand Circus - a behind the scenes documentary on the making of Roselyne and the Lions