MINA TANNENBAUM chronicles a 25-year friendship between two young Jewish women in Paris. Martine Dugowson's directorial debut is charming and enjoyable, although it does have a cinematic awkwardness characteristic of many first films.
Paris, 1968. As students and workers riot, two seven-year-old girls are attending ballet school. Mina is bespectacled and intense; Ethel is chubby and outgoing. Both are outsiders who turn to each other and begin a symbiotic friendship filled with compassion, support, secrets, and love. MINA
TANNENBAUM follows them as they move into the comic adventures of their teenage years--rebelling against their parents, trying to find their true identities, and discovering romance. Mina (Romane Bohringer, as a teen and adult) is an aspiring painter, an idealist who believes in sticking to her
dreams at all costs. In part, this uncompromising nature gives her integrity and strength, but it also sets the stage for the breakdown of her friendship with Ethel (Elsa Zylberstein, as a teen and adult), who isn't really committed to anything in particular. But Ethel does want to leave her mark
on life--as Mina does with her painting--and she becomes a journalist. As they move out of their teens and become adults, their closeness becomes entangled in shifting self-images, jealousies, and resentment. When Ethel marries the man that Mina secretly loves--arrogant art dealer Jacques Dana
(Jean-Philippe Ecoffey)--Ethel and Mina angrily part ways. Ethel moves ahead with her life, while Mina loses her confidence in her talents and her will to paint. Having depended on each other for most of their lives, Mina and Ethel are both forced to come to terms with the profound consequences of
losing a friend.
MINA TANNENBAUM is an amusing and entertaining drama, an intimate look at the ebb and flow of friendships between women. Both Romane Bohringer and Elsa Zylberstein are widely seen as rising stars on the French movie scene. Bohringer, who won a Cesar (the French Oscar equivalent) for her role in
Cyril Collard's SAVAGE NIGHTS (1992, US release 1994), gives a wonderful performance as the intense, raw Mina. Zylberstein, who can also be seen in FARINELLI and JEFFERSON IN PARIS, allows Ethel's character to develop a rich complexity as she juggles her own needs and desires in work, love and
friendship. Director and writer Martine Dugowson won the Best Screenplay Award at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival. However, her direction of MINA TANNENBAUM bears the marks of a novice filmmaker, mixing a very traditional episodic style of storytelling with wild, slightly ungainly touches (like the
use of movie clips). Unfortunately, MINA TANNENBAUM pales as a portrait of the power and complexity of female friendship in comparison to the work of another female director, Diane Kurys. (Sexual situations, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: MINA TANNENBAUM chronicles a 25-year friendship between two young Jewish women in Paris. Martine Dugowson's directorial debut is charming and enjoyable, although it does have a cinematic awkwardness characteristic of many first films. Paris, 1968. As stud… (more)