Happily married with a daughter, Marc is a successful real estate agent in Aix-en-Provence. One day, he has an appointment with a woman to view a traditional country house. A few hours ... See full summary »
Happily married with a daughter, Marc is a successful real estate agent in Aix-en-Provence. One day, he has an appointment with a woman to view a traditional country house. A few hours later, Marc finally puts a name to her face. It's Cathy, the girl he was in love with growing up in Oran, Algeria, in the last days of the French colonial regime. Marc hurries to her hotel. They spend the night together. Then she's gone again. And Marc's mother tells him Cathy never left Algeria. She was killed with her father in a bombing just before independence... Written by
The Film Catalogue
Magnificent romantic mystery film steeped in memory and desperate emotion
The original French title of this film is UN BALCON SUR LA MER, meaning A BALCONY BY THE SEA, and the English title does the film no justice at all, compared to the evocative original. The film is 'made from the heart' by actress, writer, and director Nicole Garcia, who was born in Oran, Algeria, when Algeria was a French colony, and who had to flee in 1962 at Independence, because of the violence. This film concerns the tragic romantic loss suffered by three French teenagers whose young lives and affections for each other were torn apart by the events of 1962. A marvellous performance by Jean Dujardin in the male lead is delivered with such quiet suffering, such profound longing, that it adds a dimension of even greater authenticity to this film, which is authentic enough already, and is shot in numerous localities in France, at Oran in Algeria, and in Morocco. This film is truly a magnificent achievement, succeeding on every level. It works as a puzzling mystery story, as a psychological study, and as a romantic saga, all at once. It has a certain feel of du Maurier's REBECCA about it. If it had been made with Hollywood stars, it would have been world-famous by now, instead of languishing unnoticed except in France. The film certainly qualifies as a true work of art. It is very much an elegy to 'les temps perdu' ('a lost past time'). Nicole Garcia does not appear in the film as an actress, but in addition to directing it, she was the co-writer of the story which must to a considerable extent be autobiographical. Sandrine Kiberlain is the uncomprehending wife, looking after her home, unaware of the depths of emotion swirling through her husband's head, a role similar to that which she played in THE APARTMENT (L'APPARTEMENT, 1996, see my review). The exciting Marie-Josée Croze (a french Canadian actress by origin) is the mysterious woman who haunts the story and the thoughts and dreams of Dujardin, and who may come to haunt those of the viewer as well. She will shortly appear in a Working Title film of Sebastian Faulks's marvellous BIRDSONG, about the First World War, which I saw not so long ago brilliantly staged as a play in London. It is a film to look forward to (to be released in 2012), and it will be good to see more of Croze. There is a surprise appearance by Claudia Cardinale in a cameo, and it is good to see her still at work. I do not wish to spoil this marvellous film for viewers by saying too much about the story. Just see it.
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