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 ...
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Florence Loiret Caille
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
This is, I think, meant to be a cold film - its summing up moment for me is when we have an extended close-up of Gaelle's ring on the ground in the snow, the white gradually darkening with the stain of Bruno's dark red blood. The camera simply watches the beauty of the movement, enjoys its aesthetic simplicity, and refuses to pan back to Bruno and let us witness his emotion and what is going on with him as he slowly bleeds. This is a deconstructed road movie; Bruno goes on a mission to deliver a message - a message whose sense we never learn, and whose effects ultimately seem irrelevant or minimal. Each trip in the car sees Bruno get involved with increasingly desperate sexual couplings, but there is no sense that these will progress anywhere. Indeed, it is noticeable that this film emphasises the way in which Bruno is in fact rejected at places that connote not travel as such, but the (unromanticised) stasis that travel also necessitates - in getting lost, at the airport, at the car park. Not so much on the road, then, as off the road - our lives here are not so much the American myth of untrammeled spaces, more full of constraint, difficulty and so on. The question repeated throughout the film in reference to Bruno's putative Communism, but what about the wall, becomes symbolic for me of the film's whole point. Neither sexual desire, nor 'love', nor ideology, can overcome the blocking 'wall', the stasis that haunts us. The cuts to Bruno's hand are perhaps the least disturbing thing in this beautiful, cold, bleak film.
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