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Time Out for Love (1961)

Les grandes personnes (original title)
Abandoned by her lover Philippe, Michèle, a Parisian fashion designer, tries to kill herself. She is saved by her doctor and Ann, a young American nurse, who takes up residence in Michèle's apartment to keep an eye on her patient.

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Ann
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Philippe
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Michele
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Dr. Severin
Françoise Prévost ...
Gladys
Nando Bruno ...
Buccieri (as Fernando Bruno)
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Abandoned by her lover Philippe, Michèle, a Parisian fashion designer, tries to kill herself. She is saved by her doctor and Ann, a young American nurse, who takes up residence in Michèle's apartment to keep an eye on her patient.

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psychological drama | See All (1) »

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3 February 1961 (France)  »

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Time Out for Love  »

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A tale of an intensely passionate romance
21 February 2017 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This excellent film, whose original French title is LES GRANDES PERSONNES (THE IMPORTANT PEOPLE), has the English language title of TIME OUT FOR LOVE. It is based on a novel by Roger Nimier entitled (in translation) HISTORY OF A LOVE. Nimier was a well known French writer who died tragically young at the age of only 36. I slightly knew his former mistress, and had an interest in him because of his close friendship with one of my favourite writers, Paul Morand. His daughter Marie Nimier is also a novelist, her best known novel perhaps being ANATOMY OF A CHOIR. Another one of her novels has been filmed, and she has also had an original screenplay filmed this year entitled BARRAGE. This film stars the wonderful Jean Seberg, who had made BREATHLESS with Godard the year before. Here, aged 23, she plays a 19 year-old American girl from Lincoln, Nebraska (Seberg herself was from Iowa, which is next door to Nebraska), who has come to Paris speaking fluent French with a strong American accent, to look after an extremely rich uncle who has had a heart attack. He lives in a huge mansion with a very depressing interior, and we get little more than glimpses of him in the film. Seberg wears a wig with pigtails at the beginning of the film to make herself look younger, which is successful. Later she reverts to her short-cropped BREATHLESS look, the perfect gamine. Seberg knows no one and is lonely. She meets a famous woman fashion designer, played by Micheline Presle, and they become intimate friends instantly. Presle has her design office at the top of Galerie Lafayette and lives in style at 2, Rue Rivoli. She and her set are the 'important people' of the original French film title. (The surname Presle is probably the origin of the name Presley in America, and I suspect Elvis may have been of Huguenot descent, as was James Agee, also of Tennessee.) As she is now mixing with an older 'smart set', Seberg is quickly given a makeover and wears designer clothes and has the cropped hair, becoming an overnight glamour gal. Then she meets Presle's rich, fickle, and narcissistic lover, played by Maurice Ronet. They fall in love, and for Seberg this is 'the big one' from which there will never be any emotional recovery. But Ronet's extreme and passsionate love turns out to be a convertible currency, easily changed from one woman to another. He is incapable of loyalty, much less fidelity, and he lacks kindness. A great deal of emotional bruising is unavoidable for any woman who comes near him. His greatest love is himself. There is a documentary profile of the director, Jean Valère, on the Blu-ray disc, in which he says that he had wanted to film JULES ET JIM, but Truffaut beat him to it, so he made this film instead. It is extremely well made indeed. It was released on disc by Gaumont only in 2015, and has English subtitles. It is definitely a classic, no doubt about it, in that rare category of 'extreme romance' films, of which there are so few. (It is just as well there are not more of them, as they are very nerve-wracking and upsetting.) We get a lot of wonderful location footage of Paris as it was in 1960, and the most remarkable thing about that is the incredible absence of traffic everywhere. On one romantic night, Seberg and Ronet stay up all night and visit many famous locations, calling each other's names to each other across considerable distances, without any background noise or traffic. An example is when they stand on opposite sides of the Place de la Concorde and there is not a car in sight, he shouts 'Ann' (Seberg's character name) and she shouts 'Philippe', their names echo in the early morning stillness, and they repeat this in various places. They genuinely 'have Paris to themselves' to celebrate their love in this romantic manner. Such a thing is incredible to us today, as all the European cities are now so over-crowded that it is inconceivable that anyone could shout his or her lover's name anywhere at any hour and expect to be heard at any distance at all. Maurice Ronet was a very good actor, as he proved also in George Lautner's fabulous thriller MORT D'UN POURRI (DEATH OF A CORRUPT MAN, 1977, see my review). He died aged only 55. But that was nothing compared to the terrible tragedy of Jean Seberg's death. She was only 40 when she died mysteriously of an overdose, which may have been either suicide or murder, we shall never know. (Strange how this mystery reminds us of the unsolved deaths also of Natalie Wood and of Marilyn Monroe.) Jean Seberg was such a breath of fresh air, that in a 'breathless' world (pun intended), her gamine face was an inspiration, and her performances rang true. I have already praised her wonderful performance in BONJOUR TRISTESSE (1958, see my review). Even in LILLITH (1996), she magically charmed us as she scared us. One interesting thing I would like to point out about this film is that the film's music is by Germaine Tailleferre, the only female member of Les Six, the six composers of the Montparnasse Era who formed a famous group (including Auric and Poulenc; Auric also became a prolific film score composer, and Germaine herself composed 8 film scores altogether.) Despite the early deaths of the other two stars, Micheline Presle is still with us, even though she was older than both of the others and is now 95. That's what I call staying power! Her last performance in a feature film was in 2012, aged 90, although she subsequently appeared in another film in 2014, aged 92, as 'une passante' (not the same as the one in Baudelaire's poem of that title).


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