The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, April 27-May 3

the french-william klein-bjorn borg

The French (1982)
Directed by William Klein
Given total freedom to film the 1981 French Open, Klein directed this intimate and watchful portrait, as incisive, if necessarily less in-your-face, than any of his photographs. From the locker rooms to the stands to the famed clay courts, the great photographer and filmmaker shrewdly surveys the Roland Garros spectacle, underscoring its peculiar exposure—between celebrity (tennis players Chris Evert, Yannick Noah, John McEnroe) and the pressing crowds and grasping press, the players and their pressurized emotions. More than even the dyspeptic McEnroe, this heavy social weight seems to get to the heart of the shy champion, Björn Borg. Klein opens with the reigning French Open winner (on a poster Wes Anderson would love) and returns to him often, presciently viewing the Swede as a weary king. (Borg would retire less than two years later, at age 26.) Ironic and intuitively shot, The French is tennis films’ Greatest Of All Time. Jeremy Polacek (April 29, 7:15pm; April 30, 12:15pm at “Metrograph A-Z”)

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