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Marie, a professor of English literature in a Paris university, has been happily married to Jean for 25 years, although they have no children. During their summer vacations in the southwest of France, Jean leaves Marie sunbathing on the beach and goes to swim in the sea. When Marie turns back, she cannot find Jean. Has he left her? commited suicide? drowned? With no clue and no body to mourn over, Marie acts as her husband was still alive. Written by
For financial reasons, the movie was shut down for 6 months, which worked for the best for François Ozon because then he actually shot on the summer and the winter, like the movie differentiates. See more »
The death of a beloved person implies also a big loss, a loss which dependents refuse to believe.
Director Ozon flurries and unsettles the viewer again. It begins with the cut right after the vanishing of Marie's (Charlotte Rampling) husband Jean. It's summer. The married couple apparently enjoys their vacation at the sea. Suddenly, Jean disappears and the search of the police remains without a result. Cut! Marie sits with friends at a table, ostensibly in a flashback, outside it's winterly, Marie tells from Jean, who is waiting at home. She goes shopping and buys some clothing items for Jean. However, by and by, the viewer realizes, that this is not a flashback: It is the time after Jean's vanishing and Marie lives on as if nothing has happened.
The film concentrates only on Marie and her denial of reality, her non-acceptance of the loss, which goes so far, that she i. e. sees Jean in the door while she sleeps with another man, Vincent. Jean remains ubiquitous in Marie's life, he is always there and only disappears in a few scenes when reality comes in her life for a second. He is also present in the character of Vincent, whom she replaces with her missing husband, talks to him and treats him as if it was Jean.
That's why the film takes place in Charlotte Rampling's face, who shows a fantastic performance: She appears in every scene, her mimics symbolize the whole suffering of Marie. In clear, calm shots Ozon glances at the emotional recovery of his protagonist. Behind her chilly facade, Rampling only forebodes the psychological precipice of her figure and screens the film from flying out into melodrama. Rampling is the undoubted highlight, the highlight of a film which leaves behind an unsettled viewer.
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