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Les destinées sentimentales
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Reviews & Ratings for
Les destinées More at IMDbPro »Les destinées sentimentales (original title)

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Exemplary period film

Author: George Mpoukatsas from Europe
30 January 2001

This exquisite three hour film, set in France, begins at 1900 and ends around 1930, covering in the way three decades in the life of an idealistic man, Jean Barnery, who, although began as an protestant priest, ended up becoming an industrialist in his family porcelain factory. Through the life of a complex character, a full web of compromises, illusions, deceptions, tragedies, and mistakes emerges, capturing accurately the conflictual transformations of the era as a relation to the hero's personal journey. Despite its novelistic structure that sometimes diminishes its dramatic power through big time lapses, the film manages to retain its own life and conviction through careful development of its main ideas that pervade the whole story: The unavoidable compromises, the vicissitudes of life, the difficulty in applying your ideals, the emotional fulfillment and the problems of commitment, the futility of things. Easy answers are not provided, sometimes questions are more important. Exquisitely directed by the talented Olivier Assayas, and wonderfully performed (Emanuelle Beart and Charles Berling give subtle and nuanced performances, capturing perfectly the transitions in their characters' emotional state) the film, contrary to other period pieces, never lags despite the length. A must see for people interested in a serious piece of filmmaking.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Such a beautiful film, to fall so short

5/10
Author: Stephen-34 from Houston, TX
18 February 2007

Chardonne's novel is a masterfully written tale about two characters as they spiral through and explore love as life's most essential element. The director captured it beautifully as a tone, a feeling, and as an overall impression of how the characters react to their journey. Unfortunately, he left out the milestones, those transitions a character makes, inwardly, as outward events bear in on them. The audience is asked to make gigantic leaps of logic as the character's trust in and dependence on Love changes, evolves with age. Mind you this is a three hour epic, so it is not for want of time that the production misses the mark, only the screenwriter's discipline, and here, again, the director got involved where he ought not be.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

About love and globalization

9/10
Author: eliepoliti from Brazil
6 March 2004

I just saw this picture and it gave me the impression of Assayas trying to give us a symbolic message on globalization, French versus American markets, and at the end he delivers a movie about the film industry itself.As they say, do it for the French market!

Cinematography is at its best, rhythm of images goes perfectly along character´s feelings at the moment.

Beautiful ball sequence and very good explanation on ceramic and china industry at beginning of 20th century, breath taking swiss sceneries.

I WW sequence is also very well done.

Emmanuelle Beart and Isabelle Huppert are splendorous,La Huppert appears less but is much more intense.

Also got the impression that novel had much more to offer than the 3 hours film version, but this is film, anyway, and script is script.

Beginning and ending with a death scene, love is the only worthy thing in life.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

About love and globalization

9/10
Author: eliepoliti from Brazil
6 March 2004

I just saw this picture and it gave me the impression of Assayas trying to give us a symbolic message on globalization, French versus American markets, and at the end he delivers a movie about the film industry itself.As they say, do it for the French market!

Cinematography is at its best, rhythm of images goes perfectly along character´s feelings at the moment.

Beautiful ball sequence and very good explanation on ceramic and china industry at beginning of 20th century, breath taking swiss sceneries.

I WW sequence is also very well done.

Emmanuelle Beart and Isabelle Huppert are splendorous,La Huppert appears less but is much more intense.

Also got the impression that novel had much more to offer than the 3 hours film version, but this is film, anyway, and script is script.

Beginning and ending with a death scene, love is the only worthy thing in life.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

slow moving but extremely well done

8/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
16 January 2006

This film isn't exactly about the most exciting topic, china from Limoges, France, though it turned out to be a dandy film. It's a very lengthy film (almost 3 hours) that takes a very leisurely stroll through the adult life of a husband and wife--chronicling the husband's assumption of control of a family business and the ensuing ups and downs of this business. Once again, I know this doesn't sound very good to watch, but it is--particularly if you don't mind a long movie. I especially liked the way the characters changed throughout the film and the message the film gives that you cannot lose sight of your loved ones on your way to fortune.

About the only negative I can think of in the movie is the inconsistency of the makeup. While the two main characters age well throughout the film and definitely appear quite old when the film concludes, for some odd reason Isabelle Huppert looks pretty much the same throughout (even though at least 25 years had passed from when you first saw her until you last saw her in the movie), as did one other minor character. Oh well, it's certainly not enough to damage the movie significantly--just an odd little flaw.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Brave try at a follow-up to Visconti`s epics

4/10
Author: a.morell from Berlin, Germany
4 July 2000

For the first time Assayas has left the contemporary Paris settings of his films and tried his hands on a period picture, set in a small village in the South, a china factory in Limoges, the Swiss Alps and on the battlefields of WW1. The film is a brave attempt to revive Luchino Visconti`s lavish epics but unfortunately lacks the Italian`s breath. The story could have easily been told in 90 minutes (instead of 180!), and even if some scenes and locations look gorgeous (especially the ballroom-scene!) and Assayas` (and cameraman Eric Gautier`s) usual trademark, the nervous camerawork, goes down well with a period picture, all that isn`t enough to hold our attention for such a long time. Nothing in this films can really surprise us, not even the beauty of Emmanuelle Beart or the acting quality of Isabelle Huppert, and as the film potters along one hopes Assayas will rapidly go contemporary again. Not really bad but definitely ways apart from the quality of his earlier films.

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An intimate epic

9/10
Author: runamokprods from US
6 November 2016

The story of a man (a very good performance by Charles Berling) over a 30 year period, starting at the beginning of the 20th century. It explores what matters to him -- the women in his life, his morality, and later his porcelain factory.

It poses some important questions; how does one balance morality, passion and being an artist? And when is the pursuit of perfection a vice or a virtue?

There are flaws; some interesting plot lines are simply dropped, and other less interesting ones get more time than they need. Isabelle Huppert, while always good is surprisingly a bit one-note, and Emmanuelle Beart can't really pull off being an old lady.

But this ultimately felt like more than the sum of its parts. By the end I felt moved and thoughtful, and it's 3 hour length, while deliberate, was never boring.

Critics were very divided - some coldly dismissed it as dull and seemed angry at Assayas for betraying his earlier hipper, more energetic films (I'm just impressed by his range), while others, like me, were really taken in by the Dickensian sweep.

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The film was sensitive, but disappointing.

6/10
Author: Mr. Amiel Guiteng from Philippines
8 July 2012

The film was sensitive, but disappointing.

It was over-extended and in spite of the elements to a period flick being present -- set in a small village, a devoutly Protestant porcelain empire in Limoges, the Swiss Alps, and World War I -- it lacked the period movie breadth like how the Italian's would do it.

Not even the beauty of Béart nor the shaky camera technique used throughout the movie could hold our attention for such a long time.

Oh well, this was Olivier Assayas' first period film, a departure from his contemporary works.

That's a valid excuse for the film, I guess.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A summary of three

9/10
Author: Bocio from Argentina
28 April 2001

The first hour is much more closer than Visconti's Gattopardo than others recently films: a breathtaking, sensitive, exquisite look of the protestant bourguesie of Limoges, at the beginning of the XX cenntury when "an old age" is sinked. Then, the epic turns into Bertolucci`s Novecento. But actually, the whole love story is undoubtely a genuine Truffaut. Huppert is superb, but also Berning and Beart. The camera moves in a way you've forgotten. A must see.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Like Who is who, or Telephone index ... but without explanation and numbers

5/10
Author: przgzr from Zagreb, Croatia
25 March 2007

This movie is either too short or too long.

If it tries to follow a book and to show the whole life of several dozen people, it should have been made as a mini (not too short) serial. I still remember how much I've enjoyed first TV version of The Forsyte Saga, made in 26 episodes.

There are also far too many characters in the movie. (I know France is a big nation, but they didn't have to show all of them in one movie.) For the first hour you even don't know who the main characters are (unless you've read carefully opening credits). Later during the movie some of them never appear again, some appear when you've already forgotten who they were and you don't care for them any more (as well as main characters and probably the director himself). Some get a significant footage in certain part of the movie and then never show again, being completely irrelevant to the plot (or having a subplot of their own that never develops). Yes, life looks that way, you can suddenly meet a person you haven't met for ages, but life lasts decades and you can't compress it into 180 minutes.

The movie promises very much in first hour (though this extreme number of characters obstructs your attention and complicates following the plot - and sometimes you wonder if there is any). Ball scene (often mentioned in other comments) and some casual talking scenes are marvelous in best French tradition.

But suddenly, as if the director discovered that his movie should last more than twelve hours if he kept the same rhythm, we jump along the years and we have some important things just mentioned as if someone waking from coma now and then and getting a few basic informations before losing conscience again.

The final hour is the best, but I'm afraid many people haven't seen it, either because of giving up, or simply falling asleep while trying to find who is who and what is he doing. Even those with best attention, who could solve this two questions, had no chance to answer the third one - why. Maybe we, who stayed awake till the end, managed to understand the main characters, but it is not a compliment for a 180 hours long work.

Some people compared this movie to Visconti's works. I'd agree, as I find Visconti the most boring of all overrated directors (and, just to mention, I respect Tarkovsky, like Tornatore and adore Bergmann - and ignore action movies).

Except making a serial, this movie could have been made watchable in two other ways. First, it could be made without middle part - after 1900 events we could have skipped into WWII without losing anything. Second, Assayan could have made what Kazan did with Steinbeck's East of Eden - chose one part of the novel, one plot and cut away the rest. We could have lost characters like Louise, Aline and her friend (?), Fayet etc, but I couldn't care less for them anyway. Maybe someone would find it a blasphemy for the literature, but making people yawn and bore isn't a favor to it either.

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