Young French Cinema 2022: Hard Shell Soft Shell w/The Right Words

Director: Emma Benestan Run Time: 115 min. Rating: NR Release Year: 2021

Starring: Oulaya Amamra, Raphaël Quenard, Samira Sedira, Tiphaine Daviot, Yasin Houicha

Country: France
Language: French

Fragile/Hard Shell, Soft Shell is presented at the Film Center and in our Virtual Screening Room as part of Young French Cinema.

Presentations at the Film Center include New French Shorts program selection Haut les Cœurs/The Right Words from Adrian Moyse Dullin.

Adding to her distinguished track record as an editor for Palme d’Or winner Abdellatif Kechiche, writer-director Emma Benestan makes an exhilarating feature debut with this wryly feminist update on the romantic comedy. Twenty-something oyster farmer Azzedine thinks he has the perfect way to propose to his girlfriend, rising TV actress Jess: a fresh oyster with an engagement ring on top. But Jess is starving after a long day at work and doesn’t stop to look before she pops the oyster in her mouth. She manages not to choke, then tells Az she wants to pause their relationship.

This deft mix of goofiness and heartache sets the tone for a sensitive comedy in which Az schemes to win his girlfriend back by dazzling her with a dance performance choreographed by his friend Lila. The point here isn’t whether Az will wind up getting back together with Jess or falling in love with Lila, but whether he’ll allow himself to be fragile—to be a man who listens to his emotions and the woman he loves. By cleverly toying with our expectations, Benestan upends gender and class stereotypes to take the pulse of romance in an era of role reversals.

Young French Cinema 2022 Program See our upcoming films
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