Reuniting with filmmaker Philippe Claudel (I've Loved You So Long), Kristin Scott Thomas delivers yet another brittle, understated performance as a woman who isn't always likeable but is hugely sympathetic. But even though the film is beautifully made, it's also elusive, never quite making it clear what the point is.
Scott Thomas plays Lucie, the glamorous wife of the noted Paris surgeon Paul (Daniel Auteuil). They live in a strikingly modern home in a leafy suburb, where they indulge in lavish gardening projects and spoil the adorable baby daughter of their son Victor (Jerome Varanfrain) and his wife Caroline (Vicky Krieps). After flirting with waitress Lou (Leila Bekhti), Paul starts receiving daily deliveries of roses to his home, office and hospital, which unnerves him thoroughly. He also keeps spotting Lou around town, begging her to stop sending flowers. But is it her? Of course, Lucie can see that something fishy is going on, but she has her own issues as she's constantly pursued by Paul's business partner Gerard (Richard Berry). And Victor and Caroline's marriage is just as strained.
All of these plot-threads and more swirl around to make the film darkly involving. And through it all is a current of resentment, mainly because the characters refuse to confirm their suspicions by asking someone for the truth. Auteuil and Scott Thomas can play this kind of repressed bitterness in their sleep, saying volumes with the tiniest flicker of their eyes. This adds a remarkable depth to the film's layered plotting, partly because it's clear that even they don't understand why they're reacting the way they do.
Continue reading: Before the Winter Chill Review
Although this remake of the 1962 classic is beautifully shot and acted, it's so hollow and bleak that it leaves us cold. The topic at hand is the clash between passionate romance and a suitable marriage in a time and place where society told you how to live your life. And while the production design lavishly recreates the period, there's so little hope on display that we feel trapped in a loveless marriage ourselves.
It's 1928, and lifelong buddies Therese and Anne (Tautou and Demoustier) are finally of age, ready to launch themselves into adulthood. Therese has always been promised to Anne's swaggering brother Bernard (Lellouche), and she's excited at the thought of life with him. But nothing prepares her for the harsh, icy reality. Meanwhile, Anne is freer to explore her romantic longing for the poor but sexy fisherman Azevedo (Weber). Of course he's not remotely suitable, so Therese is sent to make Anne see reason. But when she meets Azevedo, she only makes things worse. Meanwhile, her relationship with Bernard takes an even more sinister turn.
Yes, this is a film about a woman trapped in the very life she always dreamed of having, constrained by society from living her own life and forced to take drastic action. But even this doesn't have the results she was expecting, because in this time and place, a woman simply could not control her own destiny. This is an odd kind of film for the usually gregarious Tautou and Lellouche to make, as the grim tone robs them of their usual overpowering charm. Which means that they deliver potent performances as people who are rather pathetic and unlikeable.
Continue reading: Therese Desqueyroux Review
Claudel's head character is one of immediate mystery. Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas) sits at an airport smoking a cigarette, waiting for something, anything. Her sister Lea (Elsa Zylberstein) appears and greets her enthusiastically, even as Juliette keeps her cold composure. She begins to connect with her nieces, immediately threatens her brother-in-law Luc (Serge Hazanavicius) and makes friendly with Luc's father (Jean-Claude Arnaud). Her delicate mood even permeates a patient relationship with Lea's colleague Michel (the reliably-great Laurent Grévill).
Continue reading: I've Loved You So Long Review
Russian emigrants Alexei (Oleg Menchikov--Barber of Siberia, The Kiss) and Marie Golovine (Sandrine Bonnaire--Circle of Passion, Les Innocents) receive a disappointing welcome when they step off the boat in Odessa with their young son, Serioja (played by Ruben Tapiero and Erwan Baynaud). But, because of Alexei's medical skills, the family is spared execution and shipped off to Kiev to share meager quarters with a household of alcoholic miscreants--including a strapping young swimmer named Sacha (Serguei Bodrov Jr.) Wracked with guilt over the miscalculation that has landed his family in captivity, Alexei struggles to protect his foreign-born wife while avoiding the scrutiny of a fear-ridden polity. Hope stirs when French actress Gabrielle Develay (Catherine Deneuve--Indochine, The Hunger, The Last Metro, Belle De Jour) comes to perform in the local theater.
Continue reading: East/west Review
Such is the premise of Alias Betty, a curiously titled film that digs far deeper into questions about the appropriateness of parents and the definition of insanity -- all while deftly avoiding a drop into movie of the week territory.
Continue reading: Alias Betty Review
Horty becomes fascinated with the woman and invents a romance between them, telling this story to everyone back home, including his girlfriend Zoe (the uniquely UNappealing Bohringer). The stories get so wild as to include champagne being poured all over the chambermaid!
Continue reading: The Chambermaid on the Titanic Review