Mademoiselle Chambon Movie Review
Jean (Lindon) is a builder who lives happily with his wife Anne-Marie (Atika) and their lively son Jeremy (Le Houerou). When Anne-Marie injures her back, Jean takes over her school run and meets Jeremy's teacher Veronique Chambon (Kiberlain), a lonely woman who moves to a new town each year with her job.
Jean and Veronique are instantly intrigued by each other: she asks him to repair a window in her flat, and he becomes intrigued by her violin-playing.
But his interest in her starts to affect his marriage and job.
Essentially this is a film about discovering something beyond your life that seems irresistible. Jean and Veronique clearly know that they shouldn't start an affair, but that's exactly what they are considering. So both weigh up the risks involved in embarking on this forbidden relationship. Lindon and Kiberlain play this with a startlingly level of introspection; almost nothing is said aloud as we see thoughts and feelings play across their faces. And the same goes for Atika, although Anne-Marie actually asks Jean why he is in such a mood.
This unspoken style of storytelling is fascinating to watch, especially since it's written and directed in such a natural way. But we can never escape the nagging feeling that these two people aren't remotely right for each other.
They come from very different worlds, have nothing in common and are clearly only infatuated with each other. So watching them consider major life changes is more than a little frustrating: we never believe the relationship will last.
But then, that's probably the point of the whole film, that these people have lost the ability to see clearly. The screenplay also stirs in a subplot involving Jean's ageing father (Thibault), who never quite registers as a proper character beyond someone who has remained at the head of his family for at least three generations. Thankfully, this is filmmaker Brize's only hint of moralising. If only he had kept the central romance more organic.