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Old woman Berthe leaves her house to live in her daugter Emilie's one. Emilie and her brother Antoine have fallen out three years ago and have not seen each other since, but Emilie invites him for Christmas. Memories will come up, and will be depicted both Berthe's destiny and the strange relationship between Emilie and Antoine. Written by
Complex, touching, down-to-earth, cruel - it should have taken the Palme d'Or in 1993
Once again I was watching a Téchiné film and found myself gaping with amazement at how terribly well the dialogues are written, and how incredibly well it is all acted (by Catherine Deneuve and Daniel Auteuil, which, I suppose, doesn't need any further explanation, but the others are also all excellent in their roles). Every single sentence is like a strike of the hammer on the consciousness of anyone who has experienced dysfunctional family life - and I think I'm not the only one.
What is more, after I went to bed, the thoughts just kept coming, unfolding from one another, leading to interrelations between the people, the situations, the conversations and also to conclusions, some of which might not even have been intended, but still fit perfectly into the mosaic of the film, because the director had a perfect vision and created a world that functions on its own.
It is a very atmospheric movie. It is artistic, but not in the abstract way - it's as down to earth as possible, as grounded in reality as it can be - and anyone who has been part of such a family will realise this instantly. It does suggest things, but then it also claims them, but in a language that puts into words the unsayable. Things get said out loud; still, it never sounds didactic or threadbare. It just portrays what IS; it never judges - as it is showing exactly how impossible it is to judge any human behaviour, when there are so many unseen forces in play behind it. And the real mystery is how on earth the film avoids being depressing... But it's Téchiné's secret, and I'm glad he has it.
I have never seen the complexity of human feelings and family relationships told so realistically, yet so sublimely before. If you only like action-packed blockbuster movies, this is definitely not for you. Otherwise, I can only recommend it, and it's a perfectly round 10.
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