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Suddenly he thinks her alone, his wife. This person whom he doesn't know how to love and who is now falling prey to a gnawing disease. This woman whom he knows so little about and whom he would like to be with him. Right now, Just like before. Written by
Life in a remote Swiss region is the setting for this interesting first full length feature by Severine Cornamusaz. The somewhat hostile environment of the remote farm, high up in the mountains takes its toll on Paul, the brutish man, who with his wife, Rosine, ekes out a living from his cows, poultry and hogs.
As the story begins, we are given a glimpse of Paul's rough treatment to his wife. Being strong, he has an advantage over Rosine, whom he violates every time he feels the urge to have intercourse. Being isolated from the nearest town, Paul takes for granted that his wife is supposed to satisfy him in whatever ways he deems necessary, treating her no better than a slave. It becomes clear Rosine is having a health problem as we watch her holding her stomach in pain.
Paul, who works his land alone with the help of his wife, needs an extra hand to share the work. When he finds Eusebio, a Spaniard migrant worker, he decides to hire him, but only giving him half of what the man had asked Paul. Eusebio is made to stay in a barn structure without much comfort. The only one that shows any kindness toward the new hand is Rosine. Paul begins to suspect his wife is cheating him with the new man, something that is farthest from the truth.
Rosine's problems come to a head when she collapses one day. Eusebio being the only person around must call for help to get her to a hospital. The aches Rosine was experiencing are due to a growth in her ovary, which means a stay at the hospital. She wants nothing to do with Paul, who abused her. Eusebio gets his way with the waitress at the bar in town. Paul begins to spy on the man with envy. Sadly, Eusebio must go back to Spain to deal with his own problems, leaving a contrite Paul to go back to Rosine to ask forgiveness and come back to him.
Severine Cornamusaz shows an innate talent in the way she handles the story. The screenplay was a collaboration by the director and Noelle Rebaz and Marcel Beaulieu. "Animal coeur" holds our attention because of the way Ms. Cornamusaz dealt with the situation she explored here. The three main characters are people one can relate. The brutality shown by Paul is in sharp contrast with Rosine's serene nature. She becomes the victim of Paul's own frustrations.
The three principals are excellent. Olivier Rabourdin, with his rough looks, makes a wonderful Paul. Camille Japi surprises with the retrain she shows against what is being done to her. Antonio Buil makes a good contribution to the enjoyment of the film.
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