A man and a woman, secretly in love, alone in a room. They desire each other, want each other, and even bite each other. In the afterglow, they share a few sweet nothings. At least the man ...
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A man and a woman, secretly in love, alone in a room. They desire each other, want each other, and even bite each other. In the afterglow, they share a few sweet nothings. At least the man seemed to believe they were nothing. Now under investigation by the police and the courts, what is he accused of? Written by
Cannes Film Festival
Slow moving (although only 76 minutes long), starting in the middle of confusion and sexual passion, and only very gradually revealing exactly what the central mystery being examined even is. All we know is that middle-class Julien (expertly played by director Amalric) and sexy, cold and intense Esther (the excellent Stephanie Cleau) have tremendous sexual chemistry, if not much real emotion between them. They are both married to other people, and we soon learn something awful has happened that has caused Julien to be under intense questioning by the police. All the other details are only revealed bit by bit as the story jumps around through a fractured time-scape.
Amalric uses the camera to underline and echo elements of the tricky construction, using odd, disquieting close ups that give us only a bit of the big picture, or pulling back to beautifully framed but distant feeling wider shots that give us the geography, but don't let us inside. The performances too both by the leads and all the supporting characters also serve the style. They're all dense and meticulously detailed, but it's up to us to figure out what those subtle details of behavior mean. Is that glance a look of love? Desire? Contempt? Does Julien's lawyer believe him? Does Julien's wife suspect or not?
If ultimately this adaptation of a Georges Simenon piece isn't quite as powerful as it's opening leads one to hope, it's still a smart, chilling and impressive directorial effort for Amalric.
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