Reviews written by registered user
icon-7

2 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

28 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
Who cares about plot? As beautiful to listen to as to watch., 6 September 1999

A visually-beautiful film. Even if the plot were not good (but it is) it would still be worth seeing for its good-looks.

Beart (Camille) is magnificent! When I first saw the film I thought she was a real violinist, so convincing was her 'playing'. She and Auteuil (Stephane) employ that subtle 'facial' acting, so popular in French cinema. As both their faces are quite lovely, this is a pleasure to watch. Is Beart the most beautiful woman on screen? Probably.

This movie is like a dream sometimes. It gives clues to the riddles of the characters, but does not reveal their essences. Sometimes you have to wonder if the story is really a kind of allegory, with the characters as symbols, their full significance yet to be revealed.

Look out for what appears to be an important scene featuring Stephane's parents, towards the end of the film. It is not obviously enlightening, but it may prove to hold the key to his love-less character. There is a climax to the story, but no real resolution or explanation. Yes, it's the 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' unresolved-ending phenomenon back with a vengeance. And how much more interesting it makes this intriguing story!

Oh - and the music is a substantial part of the film - not just 'background', which is a good thing.

14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Unpretentious but unforgettable domestic drama., 5 September 1999
8/10

This unpredictable and hard-hitting film follows the lives of the fascinating characters who make up a lower-middle-class family. A character-based story, there really isn't a plot, as there isn't a plot in our everyday lives, but it is all the more interesting for that.

The parents are amicable beings: the mother Wendy a chirpy, motherly character (very well-acted), the father incredibly laid-back, yet hard-working at a job he hates. Their two daughters are like chalk and cheese: Natalie, a plumber, is quiet and practical (I thought she was a boy at first: hers is a curiously unsexed character) while Nicola is a complete mess.

The ugliness of true life is shown beside its mundane beauty. The shocking scenes of Nicola's self-torture (she is a secret bulimic) are juxtaposed with scenes of the mother dusting, and the ordinary cheerfulness of the rest of the family. A bizarre family friend, Aubrey, and his dream of running his own restaurant provide a subplot of sorts, but the domestic drama is far more interesting.

Horricks gives a startling good performance as the disturbed Nicola: she drips with self-loathing, but inspires pity. The most poignant scene is one in which her boyfriend, no Einstein himself, becomes fed up with her intense sexual demands, and asks her to prove her intelligence by having a real conversation with him. Nicola, whom we know is intelligent, cannot bring herself to do this: she is compelled to always show herself in the worst light. She can only mutter 'I AM intelligent' in a voice of despair. The boyfriend departs, leaving her in a state of even more intense self-hatred and depression. It is hard-hitting scenes like this one which stick in the memory.

The mother, Wendy, who appears a scatterbrain at first, emerges as a dignified, wise and compassionate woman, as she responds in a touching scene to her troubled daughter Nicola.

It's such a plain-looking film, yet it is striking because of the intensity of its characters, and the honesty of director Mike Leigh's observations. Although life is hard for the family, it is also sweet. That, I think, is Leigh's message.