With Claude Miller, travel to Canada and ...in troubled minds!
First things first, do not let yourself be discouraged by the plot. Yes this is a love story. Yes there are two women vying for a man. But far from being the low-grade photo-novel you could fear, "Voyez comme ils dansent" proves an atypical movie despite its trite theme. The result is that boredom never sets in during the 100 minutes of its running time. Quite the contrary in fact. One thing is that the movie is signed not by a run-of-the-mill director but by Claude Miller, the man who gave us such distinctive works as "La meilleure façon de marcher", "Garde à vue", 'L'effrontée", La chambre des magiciennes" and the recent "Un secret". Besides being a brilliant actor's director (which is once again the case), Miller has a talent for singling out the mystery and irrationality lurking behind "normality". He is indeed a past master at exploring the dark side of human soul. So, yes the storyline sounds basic and could be summed up as "Man-meets-woman / Man-leaves-woman-for-another / First-woman-meets- second-woman / Clash". Period. Luckily, Claude Miller, aided by co- writer Natalie Carter, working from an American short story, manages to make the most of an indifferent starting point, thus demonstrating once again that a story is less important in itself than the way it is dealt with. In order not to make "just another movie" the authors have made the choice to move the action from Paris (where too many films of this kind are made) to a much less familiar background : Canada, in the middle of winter (from Montreal to Gatchell, Alberta ; by train, then in an isolated house within a Mohawk reservation), thus blurring the viewers' all-too comfortable bearings. Another way to destabilize the spectator and, at the same time, to bring additional emotion and extra depth, lies in the use of a non-linear, non-chronological construction, punctuated at intervals by flashbacks of remembrances haunting the two female characters. It therefore soon appears that what is really at stake is much more what crosses their minds than the action itself. But the main achievement of Claude Miller's last opus may be its central figure, a man who has physically disappeared but who is all the more present for this very reason in both Lise and Alex's psyches. Victor (as he is known to Lise) or Vic (as he introduced himself to Alex) is a fascinating human being and artist. He is supposed to literally mesmerize the two characters as well as the audience ... and HE DOES. Only one actor in the world could play the role of this fabulous showman : James Thierrée, Charlie Chaplin's grandson and one of the most original and accomplished circus artists ever. If Thierrée had declined the role, Miller would doubtless not have made this picture. But he did and, in perfect harmony with his role, he brings the fascination required to make the pangs experienced by the two female leads believable. And a hundredfold so. In several flashback sequences, Victor's one-man show (in actual fact, a variation of James Thierrée real-life's one) is filmed lovingly by the director's camera and one cannot but remain breathless at this multi-talented artist's performance, in turns a comedian, a mime, an acrobat, a contortionist and a... POET. On the other hand, Thierrée proves as good as any top of the list "psychological actor" to capture the insecurity of this character. An over the top performance around which revolve those of two excellent actresses, a blonde Marina Hands, as Victor's ambiguous ex- wife, and a dark-haired but more luminous Maya Sansa, as Vic's second life companion in Alberta. At 68, Claude Miller happens to be a YOUNG director, still experimenting with the form instead of resting on his laurels. Which does not prevent him from going on exploring the meanders of the mind, thereby further illuminating his long career.
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