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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

taste of Yvonne

Author: dbdumonteil
9 April 2004

Adaptation of a novel by Patrick Modiano, "le parfum d'Yvonne" represents another Patrice Leconte's success. To make this film, the director drew from several elements dating from his previous movies. Thus, the doctor Meinthe (excellent Jean-Pierre Marielle) is very close to Michel Mortez in "Tandem" (1987) while Yvonne's sensual beauty evokes Mathilde's in "the hairdresser's wife" (1990). So, Leconte turned a novel into a personal movie.

This movie tells a past love story that brings on a deep nostalgia due to gorgeous summer pictures enhanced by a luminous photography. It's almost a poetic and dreamlike work. And however, this happiness is too good to be true. Indeed, behind this idle and free life, hide zones of shadows. Victor Chmara claims to Yvonne that he is a wealthy Russian earl but he's nothing of the sort. He's just a young man who fled Paris so as to avoid his military enlistment (we are in 1958 and at this time, it is the Algerian war). Moreover, he wants to go to the USA but Yvonne refuses because Victor can't speak English. So, she leaves him and there's this famous sentence that says: love stories, in general don't have a happy ending. It is true.

Leconte built his movie on a long flashback and he alternates the story with two of the main characters' current situation. From this moment, we can take down a strong contrast between the shiny pictures of a celebrated and distant summer and the dark photography to connote a dull present that shows the main characters' distress and bitterness (especially the doctor Meinthe).

A beautiful and bitter movie. If you are a fan of Patrice Leconte, don't miss this one.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Yvonne The Terrible Beauty

Author: writers_reign from London, England
16 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What can you say about a film by a leading director that flopped at the box office and whose leading lady was never heard from again (shades of Les Portes de la nuit and Nathalie Nattier) yet has drawn a half dozen sympathetic comments on this very board. For me the twin selling points were Patrice Leconte and Jean-Pierre Marielle and neither let me down. A friend in France whose judgment I value warned me against it and although I could see where she was coming from I'm still glad I saw it. In some respects Leconte has produced the ultimate valentine to lost love and shot it in a hazy, wistful, slightly unreal style the way we tend to remember lost time. The handful of linking scenes featuring the narrator looking back to 1958 are shot in stark, sombre tones contrasting wildly with the pastel palette of the flashbacks set in and around Lake Geneva. The dreamlike quality is present from the start; in a dream there are no formal introductions or elaborate establishing of relationships, they are just there, you meet someone and instantly know them or know all you want or need to know to fall in love. As others have said on this board Leconte withholds information about all the three principals but even with a story as leisurely paced as this one we don't really care. The eroticism whilst more blatant than in say, The Hairdresser's Husband, is still light years short of being even soft porn but is in keeping with the dreamlike quality throughout. On balance a fine film which did not deserve its neglect.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Good film by a great director

Author: LeRoyMarko from Toronto, Canada
21 September 2005

Patrice Leconte is one of my favorite director. Although this film is not one of his best, it's still worth watching. It's burning with sensuality. Great characters: from the eccentric doctor René to the Marmaduke look-a-like dog. Good performances by Marielle, Girardot and Majani. Too bad it's her only film. This movie tells the story about two persons in love. But love, as every true movie fan will know, is not always the easiest thing. Verdict: not the best Leconte, but a very enjoyable way to spend 89 minutes.

Seen at home, in Toronto, on September 20th, 2005.

76/100 (**½)

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

The distraction of beauty.

Author: mifunesamurai from Australia
6 February 2003

1958 and the summer of secrets haunt Victor as his memories dwell into the lustful past of Yvonne's passion. They are accompanied by the eccentric gay Doctor and all together they hide secrets. Director Leconte never reveals in detail the meaning of their secrets but hints on them, allowing the viewer to work that little bit harder. The main interest is the sexual passion the camera has with beautiful Yvonne, a woman of leisure that distracts Victor and the viewer.

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Another captivating film by Patrice Leconte!

Author: Patrck Nylund ( from Stockholm, Sweden
11 January 1999

A truly beautiful film by Patrice Leconte. As usual Patrice Leconte provides us with a magnificent blend of a fine cast (a memorable performance by Jean-Pierre Marielle as Dr. Rene Meinthe), beautiful music and photography and a captivating story. A film less known than Patrice Leconte's "Le mari de la coiffeuse" but equally enjoyable.

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7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Best-seller elements

Author: shu-fen from Hong Kong, China
11 April 2004

'"Le Parfum d'Yvonne", it's famous, every one knows it.' A then 23-year-old Swiss girl told me very excitedly when we so by chance stayed in the same drab pension at the Moslem Quarter in Old Jerusalem City in Jerusalem, Israel. That was 1994 and so I watched this movie in Vevey when I went to visit her later in 1995. Yes, entertaining and erotic to some extent. Changes from the original book are largely on the age of the characters like Victor is 18 in the book but a 30+ in the movie.

Its attractions are apparent: 1) Switzerland is famous for its natural beauty 2) young pretty sexy starlet who dares to undress in a sensuous way. She once takes off her brief panties at the pier of Lake Geneva and gives it to Victor as a gift 3) the story is told in flashback, perhaps in the early 60's where the actual incident takes place in 1958, nostalgia is always a hit to Europeans 4) tantalizing and sensuous love scene between Yvonne and Victor 5) the mysteries of Yvonne, Victor and homosexual Dr. Rene Meinthe, their own personal stories are not known at all 6) they meet at the hall/foyer of a hotel, a dream place of men and women to meet their romance or love, immediately they start their romance in such a beautiful place 7) Unreal is the word for the atmosphere, it is a dream, Yvonne is a big secret herself, she is unreal, hard to get hold of 8) Nice music, I especially remember the older man who sings "Sa Jeunesse" in dark voice.

All these are effective elements for a blockbuster movie. To me, it's a past-time entertainment without much to tell. So pitiful that Sandra Majani did not do any more filming after this one, she is really a sweet girl.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It appears that French director Patrice Leconte lost artistic control over this average film !!!!

Author: Film_critic_Lalit_Rao from France
26 May 2010

A bad film also merits proper attention as it can help critics and viewers to ascertain what went wrong during the making of a particular film.This is also true for French film "Le Parfum d'Yvonne" which remains one of those horribly bad films which deserves to be seen as it has been directed by a famous director.For this film Patrice Leconte loses artistic control on many occasions as he leaves a lot of questions unanswered.The entire film is nicely shot and depiction of fun loving idlers is authentic yet this film fails to captivate audiences.This is the reason why most of the viewers will have a hard time figuring out what this film was trying to convey.It appears that viewers might complain that very less background information has been provided to enable them to comprehend what the film was all about. Despite its inherent shortcomings "Le Parfum d'Yvonne" is a film whose established actors Hipployte Girardot and Jean Pierre Marielle have done immense justice to their roles.However,it is really a pity that nothing much is known about Dutch actress Sandra Majani who shines throughout the film.Her sensual performance is extraordinary as it helps this film to be enjoyed only for its visual erotic undercurrents.

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10 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

simply beautiful, music, actors everything the best movie ever

Author: ohoberg from Germany
19 November 2005

If I would have the choice to take only one movie with me on the famous lonely island I would take this one. The director Leconte succeed to show what's really about in a relationship between a man and a woman. And that 's very difficult to show, very difficult.

And the beautiful actors, scene, Music ( Bach, Aznavour etc.)

To my mind it's not necessary to know from where the acting people are coming, and to be honest, after watching this movie more than twenty times for example I still don't know in which things Dr. Rene Meinthe is involved. The film shows the morbidity and noblesse in those times simply wonderful.

It's a little bit different from the novel but that doesn't matter. So enjoy. And of course it's a french one. Or does anyone of you really believe that you can make an erotic or at least a love scene between Britt Pit and Angela Dohle, that would look alike a frog is kissing an Allien. But that'a different thing.

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4 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Yvonne's perfume sets off a nasty stench

Author: nicholas-rogers from Birmingham, UK
26 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have never seen such a nicely made piece of rubbish in my life. I am still working out what the film was about and what was its cause. There was none and I felt I wasted an hour and a half, as well as £1.50 hiring this from the library. Nonetheless, it was beautifully made, the camera work was nice, there were interesting statements about love and Sandra Majani has a very nice bottom.

So what does happen exactly; well, it's about a man called Victor Chmara (Hippolyte Girardot) who doesn't do much with his life apart from living off his fathers inheritance. He falls in love with the beautiful actress Yvonne (Sandra Majani) and becomes best-buddies with her mysterious old friend Dr Meinthe (Jean-Pierre Marielle). They all have a great time together and then things go wrong after a strange motor/fashion show. Victor wants to go to the USA, Yvonne doesn't, and the Doctor just continues being camp. If I tell you anymore, I end up telling you the ending, so that's enough of the synopsis.

There are ingredients in this film that I liked. The camera work was sometimes interesting and there were some nice landscape shots. The dialogue, the heart to hearts, the warble about their lives, the philosophical statements about 'never letting her (Yvonne) go' were very romantic and very poetic. The acting by Jean-Pierre Marielle as the camp doctor was also amusing. Otherwise, his character is totally wasted in the story and has a far bigger role than that is necessary.

For me, Patrice Leconte's reason for adapting Patrick Modiano's book Villa Triste to the big screen was all about Sandra Majani and seeing her nude. She was a poor actress. Her movement and the way she carried herself was half-hearted. That goes for Hippolyte Girardot as well. He plays someone a little too stiff to be in love. Either the actors are poor or the director is, because there are bad performances all around, and it's the director's job to make sure that these types of performances do not happen. Another of his problems was conveying the messages in the story. They were mixed up and statements of romance were just thrown together without thought of the plot. To me it just seemed pretentious and the director was trying to be too clever with little resources.

The story had little meaning other than not to let love go when you have it. That and to see a beautiful French lady naked, which was admittedly quite nice. The statements of love were unsubtle and the acting didn't really convey any proper emotion. Totally unconvincing and I hope Yvonne's bad smelling perfume goes away. I give this film two.

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3 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Pure atmosphere

Author: Floresco from amsterdam
19 May 1999

As the audience of this movie you will drown into the atmosphere of boredom from three non-characters who are heading straight for the ending you all expect from the beginning. I still liked it though.

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