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PETITES COUPURES tells the story of Bruno (Daniel Auteuil), a communist newspaper journalist suffering a mid-life crisis. Torn between his wife Gaëlle ('Emmanuel Devos') and his young girlfriend Nathalie (Ludivine Sagnier), his political beliefs battered by the wind of history, Bruno seems to have lost his bearings. After responding to a call for help from his uncle (Jean Yanne), who is fighting a losing battle for re-election as the communist mayor of a small town near Grenoble, Bruno gets lost in a dark forest. There he meets Béatrice (Kristin Scott Thomas), who does nothing to stop him getting even more lost Written by
Kristin Scott Thomas shows up her adopted compatriots
Daniel Auteuil's Bruno in Petites Couperes is a middle-aged model of his Pierre in Christian Vincent's La Separation of 10 years ago. In both films, youthful confidence in left-wing ideology and love (mutual metaphors) crumbles into paranoia - manifesting itself as trapped aggression in Pierre and desperately comic womanizing in the more recent Bruno.
Unfortunately for Auteuil fans, the actor has become reliant on a uniform world-weariness (not unlike compatriot Johnny Hallyday in Leconte's recent l'Homme du Train). Acting it ain't, and becomes rather frustrating as the film progresses. Pascal Bonitzer doesn't help as the writer/director of the project. His sequencing of episodes overlaid with connecting symbolism fail to mask the film's lack of rhythm. I was particularly furious that the imposingly dramatic/romantic backdrops of Grenoble were made virtually redundant by a cameraman who was obviously shivering in the cold.
Krisitn Scott Thomas almost rescues the show with her female counterpart to Bruno, Beatrice. She dramatizes the dizzying contradictions intended as Bruno in a character of increasing complexity to the point of becoming surreal. Bonitzer cannot sustain this though, and the flagging plot demands Beatrice to even out into another bourgeois mannequin. In doing so Bonitzer shows then denies Scott Thomas the Oscar cabinet.
All the characters' submersion into the bourgeoisie may be a viable and indeed tragic outcome, but in this case it's a cop-out of a cadence (unlike the brutal, painful denouement of La Separation). A serious disappointment, 4/10.
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