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Muriel, or the Time of Return (1963)

Muriel ou le temps d'un retour (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 13 March 2007 (USA)
In the seaside town of Boulogne, no one seems to be able to cope with their past, least of all Hélène, an antique furniture saleswoman, her stepson Bernard, and her former lover Alphonse.

Director:

Alain Resnais

Writer:

Jean Cayrol (scenario and dialogue)
Reviews
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Delphine Seyrig ... Hélène Aughain
Jean-Pierre Kérien Jean-Pierre Kérien ... Alphonse Noyard
Nita Klein Nita Klein ... Françoise
Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée ... Bernard Aughain (as Jean-Baptiste Thierrée)
Claude Sainval Claude Sainval ... Roland de Smoke
Laurence Badie Laurence Badie ... Claudie
Jean Champion Jean Champion ... Ernest
Jean Dasté ... L'homme à la chèvre / The Goat Man
Martine Vatel Martine Vatel ... Marie-Dominique, aka Marie-Do
Julien Verdier Julien Verdier ... Le loueur de chevaux / The Stableman
Philippe Laudenbach ... Robert
Nelly Borgeaud ... La femme du couple d'acheteurs
Catherine de Seynes Catherine de Seynes ... Angèle
Gaston Joly Gaston Joly ... Antoine, le tailleur / Antoine the Tailor
Gérard Lorin Gérard Lorin ... Marc
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Storyline

In the seacoast town of Boulogne, Hélène sells antique furniture, living with her step-son, Bernard, who's back from military duty in Algiers. An old lover of Hélène's comes to visit - Alphonse - with his niece Françoise; he too is back from Algiers, where he ran a café. Bernard speaks of his fiancée, Muriel, whom Hélène has not met. The narrative, like memory and intention, is jumpy, the past obscured by guilt, misperceptions, and missed possibilities. Appearances deceive, things change. As Hélène and Alphonse try to sort out a renewal, everyone seems off-kilter just enough to hint that all cannot end well. Can anyone know another? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Muriel: Best Picture Prix International Des Critiques Venice Film Festival 1963 See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French

Release Date:

13 March 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Muriel, or the Time of Return See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When polled by the AFI filmmaker Randa Haines named "Muriel" as her all-time favorite film. See more »

Connections

References La femme du bout du monde (1938) See more »

Soundtracks

Dejà
By Paul Colline and Paul Maye
(RAOUL BRETON éditions)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Here again we see Resnais exploring themes of time and memory
21 March 2017 | by Mike_OlsonSee all my reviews

Slow burn relationship drama, an old relationship renewed and examining current relationships; lovers, family... The title of the film itself seems a play on words as it's less a take-your-pick affair than it is saying the film is about these two things, connected but because the characters share connections in the present day.

Here again we see Resnais exploring themes of time and memory as was the case with his previous two feature films: Last Year At Marienbad and Hiroshima Mon Amour. This, his third feature, reflects on times past, the characters talk about the past, but it doesn't go into filmed flashbacks or creative revisiting, looping back on itself, adding or changing subtle details. Memory does also come into play. With the one side of the two stories it's two characters with a shared past, of which one asks why this, how come, what were you thinking then...the other attempts to answer. But it remains elusive, a story told in pieces. Hard to assimilate as we aren't really shown enough connect-the-dot details of a shared past so much as we are just shown they had a shared past and make of it what you will. This approach can wear thin...it lacks cohesion and as a consequence comes up short on dramatic tension. The other part of the story also looks to the past, also fragmented and elusive.

Early on the sound score, arriving at specific points, provides more than emphasis or support as it temporarily lends an air of mystery or sly menace that wouldn't necessarily be noticed at all otherwise. Neat trick in the way it suggests unsettled feelings or hints at perhaps darker revelations to come, something I didn't get from the dialogue alone. It too is another piece. There is other symbolism to be found, a gun shown disassembled, in pieces...

At a couple points the film goes into quick edits. A single line of dialogue, jump to another scene and another line. On and on. More little pieces. It may have seemed a clever film editing technique at the time but the dialogue as presented is disconnected, unfocusing the passage of time with muddled glimpses. Which may have been the point but more than anything I found it to be somewhat annoying.

Enough. The film is an exercise in patience. For me, too much so because, even though it comes to some conclusions, in the end I didn't feel it was enough to justify the scattered approach of uncertain reflections and eventual points made. Even though from the same time period, I don't feel this film is in the same class as the Resnais films Marienbad and Hiroshima, two films that are masterpieces or nearly so. You could say the approach with Muriel is radical, as was the case in those two previous films, but that doesn't, in and of itself, make it a great film. In my opinion, yours may differ.


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