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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)
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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:

Delphine Seyrig - Volpi Prize Best Acrtess 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

Sujux Day
By Georges Delerue
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User Reviews

 
Reality vs memory of it
13 April 2007 | by G_a_l_i_n_aSee all my reviews

"Muriel" (1963) directed by Alain Resnais is a drama about the persistence of memory (aren't all Resnains' films? Incidentally, I named my review of "Hiroshima Mon Amour" that I saw about two years ago, "Persistence of Memory".)

Muriel of the title is dead by the time the movie begins, the victim of torture by the French soldiers during the occupation of Algeria. One of the soldiers, Bernard, is back in France living with his step-mother, Helene (Delphine Seyrig) in the province city Boulogne and hunted by the memories of war and Muriel. Helen deals with her own past and memories of Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Kérien), an ex-lover who comes from Paris to visit her in the company of his new 20-years-old girlfriend, Françoise (Nita Klein)

The story which Resnais tells is simple and the trailer for the movie gives a viewer a very good idea of what they are about to see: The Past. The present. The future - is it possible? Uncertainty. Suspicions. Lies. Four main characters, Helene, Alphonse, Bertrand, and Françoise are in search of what they are. There will be secrets and confessions. Is that time to love? The main theme of the film is reality vs. memory of it. Can we always trust ourselves with what we remember? Does our memory reflect the events the way they really happened or our vision of them is altered as time passes and new realities inevitably enter our lives?

What makes "Muriel" unique after all these years is the way the director presents the journey into the past of his characters, how they see it, and how it affects their present lives and the possibility (or rather impossibility) of love and happiness. Alain Resnains uses quick flashes of memory in the form of almost hypnotizing jump cuts of his genius cinematographer Sacha Vierny (Resnains and Vierny had made 10 films together). Vierny provided beautiful melancholic visual palette of washed out colors that created the atmosphere of unbearable sadness, loss, and hopelessness. Vierny who always underlined his preference for atmosphere over formal perfection, had said, "My satisfaction is that the photography is not remarked on too much for itself". The visual originality and innovation are accompanied by unusual unnerving soundtrack, eerie and haunting that adds to the understanding of guilt and remorse the film characters live with.

"Muriel" is a puzzling and multi-layered film that is easy to admire and meditate on. It is not entertaining or heart-warming and it is hard to identify with its heroes (or anti-heroes) but is always fascinating and rewarding and it may reveal its secrets after multiple viewings.


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