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L'âge de Monsieur est avancé (1987)

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Nicole Calfan ...
Suzanne / Jacqueline
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30 December 1987 (France)  »

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Late Etaix Film Shows More Influence Of Guitry Than Of Silent Slapstick
24 February 2017 | by (Carrboro, North Carolina) – See all my reviews

Despite a career setback with a 1971 documentary, the great French comedian Pierre Etaix was able to complete two more features before his recent passing. This 1987 play about a play which he also wrote is closer in its self-referential boulevard verbosity to the work of Sacha Guitry, a photo of whom is brought onto stage in the third act, than to the silent clowns who Etaix had previously borrowed from. It's basically a three character farce, with Etaix as a struggling author sitting at his desk on stage, summoning up the props and furniture that he wants via special effects-they will later be rearranged and the reality of several of them, such as a coffee cup and a telephone, will be questioned philosophically. Etaix debates with his "regisseur" who repeatedly crosses through the imaginary wall of the set, what he should write. A story pivoting on male-female relations and fidelity raises more philosophical questions. By the third act, Etaix expands his playfulness to include doubles: we see him sitting in the audience as well as on stage; the "regisseur" is both acting the role of the butler and also behind stage working; the wife played by veteran Etaix actress Nicole Calfan is seen as both dark haired and blonde; the film's color switches back and forth with black and white; the set briefly becomes a real apartment. During all of this the director often cuts to inserts of audience members reacting to the play, and sets up running jokes around them, One of the crowd is, I understand, Etaix's long time writing collaborator Jean-Claude Carriere.Though we hear, but don't see (the camera has moved to the night time outside the theater) the audience applauding at the conclusion, the end of this film leaves viewers like myself, especially when we can't appreciate every word of the unsubtitled French, a bit disappointed,especially after what we've seen of Etaix's earlier career.


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