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Although barely 30, Claire believes she is showing the first symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, a condition from which her mother has recently died. Her sister, Nathalie, is certain that her memory loss, caused by a lightning strike, is temporary. In the clinic where she is being treated, Claire is attracted to Philippe, a man who is still traumatized after a car accident in which his wife and child were both killed. In spite of their personal tragedies, Claire and Philippe fall in love. When Philippe recovers, Claire moves into his home. Then Claire's condition takes a turn for the worse... Written by
Here's another eloquent example of an actress who decided to show her potential as a female director: Zabou Breitmann also known as Zabou, full stop. The topic of her premier film gives the inkling that she doesn't fear thorny subjects. Indeed, Alzeihmer's disease and the loss of memory are rather way off cinema's radar. But it's a film to remember which is also a prime example that love can be strong and survive to any disease.
"Se Souvenir Des Belles Choses" is split into two parts. The first one takes place in the institution for people with troubled memory. Before the anticipated meeting between the two lovers that Zabou delays, she takes her time to relate and describe life conditions in this institution for the sick people and the team of doctors and nurses. She delivers a not so despondent and warm description of this place and grants a meaty place to humor and tenderness. The second part starts with the returning of Christine and Philippe in the normal world and as the latter bit by bit recovers his memory, Christine's disease gathers pace and makes her lose her marks and collapse. These are two parts that follow each other and complement themselves.
The serious problem of Alzeihmer's disease is explored without tawdry fascination or unhealthy complacency but with a minimum of objectivity and lucidity. A good proportion of sequences or details directly or indirectly linked to it ring true like the instructions left on the white board or recorded on a tape for Christine or in the institution with these strips of colors indicating the way to specific places. Zabou also didn't forget the people's dangerous behaviors facing sick people with Alzeihmer's disease. See the sequence in the supermarket when Christine's mother gives her a meeting in a precise place and poor Christine loses herself.
Zabou was right to give the main role to Isabelle Carré whose role propelled her in the restrained circle of the new young luminaries of contemporary French cinema alongside Sylvie Testud among others. She gives a startling performance supported by Bernard Campan who managed to make me forget that he was once part of this irresistible comic trio the Inconnus. For their fans, who could have thought among them that he was able to act a man at a loss with a great credibility whereas he was so far usually typecast in comical roles? The female director Zabou relegated herself in a secondary role of analyst and her love affair with the director acted by Bernard Le Coq is one of the tiny glitches her film shelters which make it (the film) impossible to reject. This is one to remember.
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