Paris shortly before World War I. Wealthy and self-satisfied, Jean Hervey is returning home from work, describing life with his wife of 10 years, Gabrielle; he values her as impassive and stolid. However, that day she's gone, leaving a letter that she's joining a man she loves. Jean is devastated, but within minutes she's returned, telling him that her resolve has failed. Over the next two days, he questions, demands, begs, and parries with her: why did she leave, why did she return, does she love him, did she ever love him, who is her lover, is she passionate with her lover? She's calm as alabaster, reserved. Is she in danger? When she makes an offer, how will he respond? Written by
Oh, dear. I cannot agree. The film is beautifully acted and sumptuously lit. Yes, it's Ibsenian in its relentless pursuit of the dark and hopeless but surely the most beautiful pay off of all is that while we all accuse HIM of being a soul-less, empty, proud and passionless man and sympathise with her - Huppert - and her confused search for freedom, the real truth is that she is as passionless, empty and love-less as he is. Why did she come back to him after she ran away? Exactly. His emptiness is her true home; it's with him she truly belongs in that cold, dark, rich and emotionally impoverished house, with its parties of unlikeable, unsympathetic guests who pass for 'society'; that cold, cold music of the piano recital at their last soirée. It's a long film, true, but it's a considerably well constructed one. Look again. David.
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