|Index||9 reviews in total|
Marie, trim bordering on skeletal, is married to only slightly dull
François, who wants a 2nd child, (Marie doesn't but doesn't know
why) (the 2 year old son comes up with some of the best acting in
the film - how do they get them to do it?).
In the course of her work as an encyclopaedia sales person (echoes of Paper Moon) Marie meets Bill, a big black American who lives alone in a villa and seemingly never goes out.
She is simultaneously intrigued and put off by his large direct presence. Gradually the intrigue wins and she overtly seduces him (echoes of Belle du Jour). Mind blowing, graphic, complicated and frequent sex ensues.
It seems as though what Marie is getting from the relationship is more important to her than her husband (desolate), child (confused and weepy) or invalid mother (disapproving, though at least seems to show a flicker of understanding when Marie explains the attraction of sex with Bill being that Bill "invades" her).
The story fairly bowls along and Ann Coesens (Marie) is riveting throughout. The best acting in the course of sex I have ever seen.
The sex is not at all pornographic, actually - although pretty graphic, it serves to explore Marie's motivation rather than titillate.
Bill is something of a cypher: the figure of Temptation. Marie is given much more space to develop than any of the other characters - but Cousens' performance fills the screen.
'Le Secret' is a frustrating film. You know it must be doing something right because you walk away emotionally exhausted, and with the sense that you have seen something of the human condition expounded. At the same time it is wanting in enough ways to undermine its claim to greatness. It is wanting dynamically to such a large extent that, whilst it is a good script and a good story, it it is not a good film. And as a piece of narrative, it is inconclusive, and not in the sense that it terminates with a poignant and provocative question. Arguably this is a film which could be remade, utilising the same script and the same cast, but using different artistic and technical direction. The camerawork adds nothing to the film. It creates no tension, no atmosphere, does not enhance the mood or emulate the powerful experiences of the characters. It is flat, weak and pedestrian. The film lacks any geography and fails to resound the timing of events (essential in a film about this subject). In short, its elements are powerful, but its construction is poor. It lacks focus. The film treads a clumsy path between an intense emotional struggle that borders on the surreal, and an ambivalent realism. It achieves neither. The direction needs to be more decisive, it needs to choose one over the other; and it needs to employ the camera more effectively to realise it. There is no differentiation in the filming between the house of the lover and the family home. Additionally we get no sense of atmosphere of either one. There is none of the seduction in the former, or of tedium in the latter, that the protagonist might be feeling. Are we supposed to believe that Marie is having fantastic sex with Bill? If so, it is only through her inadequately exposed acting. What keeps Marie coming back? Only she knows. What is driving her to maintain this relationship? We can only speculate, because the film gives us little insight into the personalisation of her experience. Additionally, the conclusion is weak and vacillating. However, this film will undoubtedly touch a nerve with anyone who has been in a similar situation. It powerfully depicts the insidious destructiveness of infidelity on both the individual, the family, and to some extent society. To conclude, a wasted opportunity, with much unrealised potential.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Le secret is not only an emotional exploration of relationships, both marital and extramarital, but also provides a stark reflection on one woman's search for a life of perfection and fulfilment. This focus and move away from the traditional marriage narrative is what renders Le Secret different from other films of its genre. Coesens plays Marie, a confused mother who turns to American Bill for what to the spectator seems to be mainly for adventurous sex. Le Secret's narrative holds back much of the emotional drive resulting in Marie's affair and without Coesen's subtle yet telling acting the viewer would be lost in her intense personal struggle. To an extent, the ambiguous nature of Marie's emotions towards her husband and lover give the viewer a certain freedom to interpret her relationships for themselves. Even the end of the film, in which Marie and Francois seem to reunite carries an ambiguity and uncertainty with it. The often reserved nature of the script and acting provides a welcome change and challenge in a genre which is often overly predictable and simplified. Much of the dialogue between Marie and her lovers is refreshingly realistic in its uncertainty and honesty.
Whatever the reason, once you enter into a 'secret' affair you've really broken the relationship, and from all the signs this woman is evidencing, contrary to her declarations of 'love,' she truly wants out of the stifling situation with her husband and child. Proclaiming to 'love' him, but then deliberately and cruelly humiliating him time and again, paints her in a very despicable manner. She says it's necessary for her to choose herself or him, and like all adulterers, she selfishly chooses 'me.' It would be nice to see the sequel, if she were to reach the much needed psychiatrist's couch, and if it could help save her, for she is now doomed for a breakdown with the 'path' she has presently chosen. It's completely delusional, no one would survive for long the current choices she is making. It's a troubling storyline (with an ending that is confusing and senseless), and the acting overall is good. A lot rests on her shoulders, and outside of a misstep or two, she does fairly good work. It would have been nice with more explanation as to why, and a bit more dialogue, but that was not the creators intention. It definitely benefits from additional viewing.
i think the movie wisely displays the act of betraying a husband, without commenting it too much. it explains with little hints how passion (and essential thoughts coming with the act) take over the life of the protagonist. with that parallel relationship she finds the time to see what she needs, what the physical contacts really mean for her, so it helped me to understand a bit more of the mind of such persons. contrary to another comment, i for myself don't think it's really unrealistic, but the movie just shows how secretive people go through deep private experiences, and while they do so, they'll eventually clash with people who, if they're normally open and talkative and get confronted with this, turn into anxious, unsure and possessive partners in such relationships. the movie is a bit light though on that aspect, it's a bit shallow overall on psychology and it will depend on your own thoughts and considerations after to fill it in in a way, on that side.
It's a common theme where an ex-marital affair almost destroys a seemingly
happy family. Under the pretence of a heavy workload promoting the sale of
a "World Encyclopaedia". Marie makes repeated visits to Bill a dance
director who formerly had his own Dance Theatre in America. He is big and
strong and dominant and black. On her second visit after a whiskey or two
she disrobes while he is answering a telephone call in an upstairs room.
Imagine his surprise when he returns. She virtually offers herself to him.
I cannot believe what I am watching. No subtlety at all. It seems a most
improbable situation. Just a wisp of a woman and a mountain of
Apparently Marie finds excitement in their continuing sexual encounters (although she shows very little emotion) and is constantly knocking on his door for more. He is happy to be of service. His sexual acts become increasingly wild and violent and love bites on her neck finally give her little game away.
The acting throughout is truly professional, even their baby boy is great and lovable. The script is questionable at times. The ending in the swimming pool is utterly ridiculous. I guess the script writers are trying to tell us something...they are giving us a symbolic gesture of cleansing...a washing away of past sins...and a promise of a new beginning.
The 3 stars I give this are for the performances - little else is
worthy of respect. The direction and cinematography are completely
flat, and the script is a mixed bag.
Where the film really falls apart though is in the behaviour of the central character. We begin with a woman who has apparently spent 12 years happily married (at least the couple appear happy at the start of the film), and who remained faithful during that time, save one brief kiss with a neighbour. She begins an affair with a man she meets whilst working, and instantly becomes an entirely new character - one that feels no guilt or sympathy towards her husband, in fact who seems to actively seek to humiliate him, and who almost allows her child to fall to its death. No explanation for this U turn into an amoral narcissist is even hinted at, and the character's own explanation consists of little more than a brief burst of existentialist waffle at the end of the film. Ultimately, the character is completely unbelievable, as her actions are irreconcilable with her history.
"Le Secret" is a fairly mediocre French film which focuses on a woman's attempt to find some existentialist truth, or some such crap, through the exploration of rather graphic sex. In that sense it is a little like Brellait's "Romance" but it seems to lack that film's intensity of design. So for the most part it seems distanced and closed. There is an expectation of the conclusion which is not met and the film is to some extent redeemed by this (unexpected?) ending but what has come before makes the film as a whole unbearable. Also, the acting and writing is pretty average.
I sincerely wish I wouldn't throw 2 hours of my life, on this awful
piece of sound and motion, they dared to call a movie.
The only normal thing is the acting of the husband (Michel Bompoil) and the black lover(Tony Todd), which is good.
Everything else is just bad. The script is half baked and repetitive at times. Directing is more suitable to "B" movies.
During the movie I just waited for it to end, and the only reason I kept watching is my hope for something extraordinary at the end, but the end is even worse the the rest of the movie.
I give it 1.5 out of 5.
I do not usually comment on movies, but this one was so wrong, that considering its rating I must warn others to stay away.
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