The Independent Recommends: Film

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SHOT IN A bleak-looking Lille, The Dream Life of Angels (left) is an exquisitely observed slice of French realism which follows the friendship between two impoverished but ebullient 20-year-old girls. Isa (Elodie Bouchez) is a happy-go-lucky drifter who pals up with the more introverted Marie (Natacha Regnier). Shading from luminous comedy into tragedy, this poignant film features naturalistic performances from its two leads. An impressive debut from its first-time director, Erick Zonka.

Limited release

And if wintery realism isn't your tasse de tea, why not opt for sheer escapism with the exuberant 17th-century swashbuckler, Le Bossu? The fantastic Daniel Auteuil stars as Lagardere, a low-born swordsman who finds himself defending the foppish but noble Duc de Nevers (Vincent Perez) from his evil cousin, Count Gonzague (Fabrice Luchini).

Limited release

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