There is a lot of tension and resentment in Romain's and Jeanne's marriage, but their divorce is amicable. They seem to agree on how to raise their daughter, Madeleine - she will live with ... See full summary »
There is a lot of tension and resentment in Romain's and Jeanne's marriage, but their divorce is amicable. They seem to agree on how to raise their daughter, Madeleine - she will live with her mother and spend every other week-end with her father. But Romain is very controlling and manipulative and is poisoning the arrangement. At first, Jeanne seems to cope with being a single parent, but when she has to put up with Romain's tactics she starts to fall apart. Written by
Dan Timis <email@example.com>
A rewarding, unusual film about a very ambiguous divorce
Recently divorced couple Richard Berry and Anne Brochet try to treat each other respectfully in behalf of their 10-year old daughter (Adrienne Winling), but things begin to get nasty. He's a professionally successful, power-driven, persuasive, rational, obsessive kind of man. She's spontaneous, edgy, carefree, somewhat irresponsible, and has the legal custody of their daughter, but is increasingly unbalanced by the convoluted schemes of her ex-husband.
At first, it looks like the usual cliché film about the dire consequences of a divorce, with the child used as a voluntary/involuntary weapon by both. Fortunately, it's rather an intelligent and sensitive portrayal of the nerve-wrecking battles in an apparently resolved but resentful divorce, making mean and revengeful traces emerge in perfectly "normal" people though they try to maintain a civilized "varnish" -- battles which ultimately throw them dangerously off balance.
Well, this is a French film, so there's a LOT of dialog but - thankfully - no scenes of physical violence, child abuse or characters going berserk, as it's usual in Hollywood "bad divorce" flicks. The ambiguous motivations of the characters, with their qualities and objectionable flaws, enrich the film considerably, making you sympathize with each character alternately throughout the film -- and ultimately making it hard for us to decide "who's right".
Although the film apparently takes no sides, as the film progresses we can very much feel that this is not only a movie about two divorcés, but also about family law procedures, social conventions and the clash between "classic" male and female stereotypes. The male character is about reason, objectivity, power, success, money, control; the female character is about spontaneity, freedom, irrationality, sensitivity, subjectivity, lack of control.
The script and direction concentrate on the main couple, but supporting characters are also well drawn and acted, from the woman's parents to the child's teacher, from the man's bored new girlfriend (the beautiful Marine Delterme) to the woman's office-mate and occasional bed-mate (a chubby and unsexy Charles Berling, in one of his first movie roles). The acting is especially fine: the young girl who plays the emotionally torn apart daughter (Adrienne Winling) does a very subtle and effective job. But the warmest "chapeaux" must go to Richard Berry and Anne Brochet for their magnificent performances. Berry, especially, is wonderful to watch as he weaves his spiderweb to entrap his ex-wife, trying to implode her life and sanity with meticulous obsession, a sort of modern-day Charles Boyer in Gaslight.
Filmmaker Bernard Stora's filmography as a writer is more impressive and abundant than as director. I haven't seen any other of the movies he directed -- they haven't reached Brazil, as far as I know -- but the titles already make me drool: "La Corruptrice", "Six Assassins sans Crime", "Un Dérangement Considerable", "Vent de Panique", "L'Inconnu de Vienne".
Don't watch this film if you've been through a recent divorce and your ex-spouse is giving you trouble. Otherwise, you'll enjoy this subtle, witty, involving film.
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