“ULYSSES & MONA”— A Lonely Artist and His Young Admirer


A Lonely Artist and His Young Admirer

Amos Lassen

Film Movement brings us a beautiful new film, “Ulysses and Mona”, the story of Ulysses (Eric Cantona), a 55-year-old contemporary artist who ran away from his family and ended his career four years earlier. Today, he spends his days in seclusion hitting tennis balls or listening to horror movie soundtracks. Mona (Manal Issa) is a 20-year-old art student. Between nude drawing workshops and boring theory classes, her life is totally uneventful. Everything changes when Mona decides to meet Ulysses.  After a failed first attempt and some misfortune, both set out on a journey that will change their lives forever. French director Sebastien Betbeder gives us a completely offbeat yet emotionally effective film about a lonely man at death’s door trying to make amends with the world.

Eric Cantona is the infamous “King Eric” of Manchester United who switched to acting in the late 1990s and plays Ulysses, a major French artist who disappeared from the public eye several years ago following a show at the Pompidou Center in Paris. He has been holed up in a crumbling chateau with little to do but play tennis by himself, He remains completely estranged from both his wife (Marie Vialle) and his son (Nicolas Avinee) and has few viable hopes for the future. This becomes  a bleak reality when he’s diagnosed with brain cancer.

Then along comes Mona, a young fan of Ulysses’ work who, through the encouragement of a fellow art student (Quentin Dolmaire) who decides to find him at his remote country home. Although it takes some time for Ulysses to warm up to Mona, he eventually on a road trip with her and visits his brother, his ex, his son, the couple as they drive across rural France and make several stops, each resulting in an incident that mixes humor with sadness and even desperation

Even though the story digresses at points, it keeps to its theme of a man coming to terms with himself through the help of an improbable guardian angel. It’s not quite clear to us what Mona is hoping to get out of their relationship and in the end she winds up just going along for the ride, proving to be the wise and willing friend that Ulysses so badly needs.

The dialogue is quirky but so are the two leads and they make it work. Cantona delivers his lines, barely moving when he speaks as if to better show us the paralysis of his character. Issa is perfect here as a girl who seeks out her favorite artist for inspiration, only to become his inspiration and what keeps him going. Mona is the catalyst for Ulysses’ redemption


Bonus Short Film: Wolf Carver (Written and directed by Aino Suni | Finland | 13 minutes | Finnish with English subtitles) — Outsider artist Sulo unexpectedly ends up on a strange road trip through snowy Finland with a person from his past that he’s never met before.

French with English Subtitles


 Founded in 2002, Film Movement is a North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films based in New York City. It has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide.  Film Movement’s theatrical releases include American independent films, documentaries, and foreign art house titles. Its catalog includes titles by directors such as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Maren Ade, Jessica Hausner, Andrei Konchalovsky, Andrzej Wajda, Diane Kurys, Ciro Guerra and Melanie Laurent. In 2015, Film Movement launched its reissue label Film Movement Classics, featuring new restorations released theatrically as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, including films by such noted directors as Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marleen Gorris, Takeshi Kitano, Arturo Ripstein, King Hu, Sergio Corbucci and Ettore Scola. For more information, please visit www.filmmovement.com. Visit www.filmmovementplus.com for more information about Film Movement Plus, the new subscription streaming service from Film Movement.

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