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A triangle: love, obsession, and choice. Pierre, a ladies' man who has little cash and no fixed residence, describes his best friend Benoît as the world's oldest 32-year-old. The shy, well-employed Benoît's life changes when he answers the personal ad of Marie, a 25-year-old who restores paintings. He's attracted to her and she likes his steady calm and his honest attention. They're soon a couple, and they include Pierre in their dinners, outings, and trips. What will happen when Pierre realizes that he too is in love with Marie? Written by
One of those films that remains in you mind for days afterwards...
This is one of the funniest, saddest and most truely beautiful films I have ever seen. I watched this film several months ago in the Cambridge Arts Cinema and the memories of its wonder remain with me today. I took my boyfriend, who speaks no french, to see it, worried that he would be bored and frustrated by imposing subtitles and missing some of the very "frenchness" that brought the French government to insist on "l'exception culturelle" that makes French films so special to watch.
What a waste of anxiety! The two of us were spell bound throughout the whole performance. Attal, Gainsbourg and Berling's performances are gripping. The film is intense- filled with extremes of emotion. In the space of seconds the actors manage to plummet the audience from laughter to stunned silence as the plot unfolds. We are not witnesses to this story, we are able to involve ourselves deeply with the highs and lows of the action.
But it's not simply a well-acted and well written script that make this film compelling viewing. What I really love about french films is the way you can climb into the heads of the characters so well. I found myself fascinated by the transformation of Pierre (Attal) from the eternal bachelor to the devoted lover. His character literally takes the place that Benoit (Berling) occupied in the opening scenes. This transformation could have seemed clumsy, even unbelievable, but the subtlety of Attal's acting made it gripping and convincing to watch. Equally dramatic is the eruption of the quiet Benoit over dinner when he confronts Marie (Gainsbourg) and Pierre about their affair. Gainsbourg too, is very strong in the role of Marie, especially in her development of Marie's anger into love for Pierre.
What is essentially a sad story (a best friend running off with his best friend's wife and a wife who is torn in love for two very different men) is also very comical and even ends with that feeling that this is something very sad yet very beautiful. The real beauty of this film is its ending... which I shan't expand on for fear of ruining it for anyone who wants to see the film. I shall only say that these final scenes made me think about the entire film for hours, even days afterwards. I left the cinema truely spellbound by the magic that had been worked in the space of a couple of hours.
The soundtrack complements this film excellently and I recommend you buy the cd. I chased over London to find it and it is one of the best £17 pounds that I have ever spent. Music by Lenard Cohen, Pavarotti plus music written specially for the film follows the same intensive pattern of emotions that the film does.
If you make time to see one film, see this one. Even now I cannot stop thinking about the power and magic of it. My only regret is that I can't seem to find it on video in the UK as soon as I can, I shall "take this waltz" many times again.
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