At the age of 20, Martin leaves his home town and comes to Paris, where he fortunately becomes a model by chance. He meets Alice, his brother's friend, and falls in love with her. They ... See full summary »
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At the age of 20, Martin leaves his home town and comes to Paris, where he fortunately becomes a model by chance. He meets Alice, his brother's friend, and falls in love with her. They start a passionate relationship, although Martin remains very mysterious about his past and the reasons why he left his family. But when Alice tells him she's pregnant, he is suddenly almost driven to madness, as his past comes back to his mind. Alice will now do anything she can to help him. Written by
Very Original Take on the Couple Made for Each Other Genre
"Alice and Martin (Alice et Martin)" is the anti-Hollywood relationship movie of the summer. (It's French so you have to say it like you went to National Lampoon's famous School of ze French Akzent: "a-LEES ay mar-TAHN").
Act 1 gives you background on Martin growing up, yeah you think as you get restless, the usual dysfunctional family, the usual fights with dad, so he ends up in the big city.
Act 2 is the usual couple in the Big City (in this case, of course Paris) and quite a few people in the audience yawned quite loudly. There's a few sophisticated touches -- she's pals with gay guys, he falls into being a fashion model for the easy money (and the metaphor for his blankness) so there's arguments about commercialism.
This is my first Andre Techine film so I don't know if the crucial Act 3 is unusual, even though the central plot development was not a complete surprise.
So many Hollywood "meet cute, fall into bed, fight then realize they're made for each other" movies have the couple existing in a bubble, separate from family or the sources of how they got to be like they are. Here coming to terms with their souls means coming to terms with their family and seeing through all the implications. So there's a bit of a gimmick in cutting back and forth with flashbacks to reveal background to us, but it's done sort of like an amnesia victim gradually remembering.
Juliette Binoche really rises to the Act 3; I wasn't all that impressed with her in "The English Patient" but she's gut-wrenching here, going through very complex emotions--and nice non-Hollywood touch that she's the older of the pair.
If Hollywood were to remake this movie, they'd cut to the last 10 minutes, and turn it into a courtroom drama where the heroic defense lawyer goes around interviewing everyone to get to "the truth," but coming to peace with yourself is not something that litigation can solve, and Binoche's face shows that.
Nice repeat use of Jeff Buckley song.
(originally written 9/3/2000)
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