At 30, boyish penniless aristocrat Ryno de Marigny has separated from Villini, a passionate Spaniard and his mistress of 10 years. He's now in love with Hermangarde, a young, wealthy, and titled virgin. Days before the wedding, the bride's grandmother sits Ryno down and insists on knowing if his affair is over. He relates a story of passion, which we see in flashbacks, swearing he loves only Hermangarde. After the wedding, the couple moves to a castle by the sea. And Villini? Can passion survive disgust and self-loathing? Written by
Libertine Ryno de Marigny (Fu'ad Ait Aattou) is about to marry into a rich family but must explain to his soon to be wife's grandmother why he has spent the last ten years with the same mistress (Asia Argento. The man must explain the two's connection and he must then face the fact that he won't be able to see her again or if she will let this happen. Breillat has become one of my favorite directors since seeing FAT GIRL several years back and she continues her success with this love triangle that certainly has a lot more style than substance. In the end, I'm really not sure if this movie tries to say anything other than that men are worthless pigs but if that's all there is to say then I'm alright with it because this is a beautiful film to look at and we're given some fine performances to watch. Argento is the one who really stood out for me and this is certainly the best I've seen from her. She's usually hit and miss (especially in her dad's movies) but she nails all the right notes here and delivers a full character. I really felt Argento hit all the dramatic notes just right and I think she did quite well in the more emotional scenes at well. There's a bizarre sequence in the desert where she really gets to show this off as well as mixing it in with her sexuality. Being a Breillat film, you know there's going to be quite a bit of sex and nudity. There's plenty of both but it's certainly a lot tamer than we're use to seeing but Argento dives into it head first. There's not an inch of her body that Breillat doesn't put the camera on but this is never a bad thing as she's got a certain way to throw her sexuality around. Newcomer Ait Aattou is also very impressive as the libertine as he perfectly captures the spirit and tortured soul of this character. He and Argento work extremely well together and this is especially true during their more dramatic moments. The visual look of the film is a real treat as the cinematography is top notch as is the costumes, art design and the marvelous sets. It seems Breillat spent a lot more time on the style here than the actual substance but I don't say this as a negative thing. I'm sure some might feel there should be more meat here but I think the film balances both ends quite well and in the end we're left with a very impressive film, although no classic.
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