Pierre and Manon are a pair of poor documentary makers, who scrape by with odd jobs. When Pierre meets young trainee Elisabeth, he falls for her, but wants to keep Manon at the same time. ...
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Pier Giorgio Bellocchio,
Pierre and Manon are a pair of poor documentary makers, who scrape by with odd jobs. When Pierre meets young trainee Elisabeth, he falls for her, but wants to keep Manon at the same time. But the new girl in his life finds out that Manon has a lover. When she tells Pierre, the time comes for difficult decisions all round.
In the Shadow of Women reacquaints us with the quaint realism of the nouvelle vague, that province of Godard, Truffaut, and other great French directors who strip down their mise en scene to just the essentials of two characters falling in and out of love, mostly through bright dialogue in ordinary settings without fancy camera work.
Only a French director like Philippe Garrel can take a formulaic French infidelity involving a husband and wife and their lovers and make it fresh while supporting verities that will live forever: If both husband and wife are unfaithful, then even the French know something is amiss and bound to be righted with some accompanying pain.
If the husband fails to recognize his sin while he rails against his wife's infidelity, then so be it in the comic stupidity of French men and men in general. Revealing his self-centered chauvinism, Pierre (Stanislas Merhar) tells his wife, Manon (Clotilde Courau), "I thought you were different." Manon and Pierre are struggling documentary makers who are also married with him being restless and her still much in love. But the young intern, Elisabeth (Lena Paugam), turns his head while the handsome colleague turns Manon's, and while they both admit their infidelities it's not certain the turn has come about because of lust or reaction to their spouse's indifference.
If this story sounds trite, it is, but it remains one of the best romances in recent memory just because it is authentic and displayed by superior acting and directing. It is, after all, a European film, and as such it will be slower and chattier than most American romances. It has the old New Wave energy that offers youthful glamour and foolishness. It's magical old-fashioned romance showing exactly why men are in women's shadow.
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