A Simple Story (1978) Poster

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Weak and shapeless
taylor988527 June 2002
This was the fifth and last collaboration of Romy Schneider and Claude Sautet. Sautet did for her what von Sternberg did for Marlene Dietrich--gave her star quality in well-written vehicles. Cesar et Rosalie and Les choses de la vie are wonderful to watch today; they have pace and drama, plenty of verve. Une Histoire simple, by contrast, has little drama, slack pace and characters you don't get involved with. The group dynamic-the characters all working in the same company-lowers the interest. It's a film made to please a feminist segment of the population, like Mazursky's An Unmarried Woman.
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Until death
shatguintruo22 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
There is no doubt about Claude Sautet : He was a deep analyzer of souls...Having collaborated with this script - It goes without saying - he was like a surgeon grasping a medical knife and dissected the souls of all his characters. He tried to reveal what went "inside" his characters until saturation point in which there is not anything else to reveal... The highest point of this history is the deep demonstration of friendship that links Marie (Romy Schneider) and Jerôme (Roger Pigaut) who has to be dismissed of an enterprise due a re-structure in order that it becomes "modern". The film approaches a social aspect that says respect to us even so has been carried through in 1978: the summary cut of employees that are no "more incoming-producing". As if human being were objects that only exist to produce profits and not been born for the accomplishment of his aspirations! The spotless direction of Claude provided to Romy a César ( the "Oscar" of french cinema) who made frequent closes in order to caught the limpid look of the actress, as that if Marie wanted to analyze, however her interlocutor, however people who surrounds her, however definitive occasions in which are congregated all her friends... As if it treats - as indicates the heading of the film (A Simple History) I abstain to count it, only suggesting that everybody must see the film. In scale of 1 to 10, I vote: 10 (a masterpiece).
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Too Simple?
Jonathan-1821 October 1999
Most French movies, and especially Claude Sautet's are very realistic, slow-paced, intelligent and "simple". Each one I have seen had great moments, as everyone encounters great moments in life. This may be too ordinary and plain. Though not boring at any time, at the end I could not think of any memorable scene, shot or dialogue, and thought it was missing something, although the title does suggest they didn't have much planned for the beautiful heroine. A story you may have had, heard, thought about- in French, on screen.
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A beautiful movie about the passage into middle age.
eyeseehot5 October 2003
I loved this film. It's not really for kids. To appreciate it fully I think you have to be older. It's about the last moment of youth on the edge of the passage into middle age. It's about getting a sense of who you and the people around you really are.

Romy Schneider is beautiful and seems to incarnate this quiet but strong woman. In a way this is a woman's picture. It concentrates mainly on the women. The men are weaker, on the whole, but not in the programmatic way of bad "feminist" films. In one scene the women are cooking together, getting into a serious argument, then somebody spills something and they suddenly unite in cleaning it up. That might be an emblem of the movie. Tough things happen, but life goes on.

One of the remarkable qualities of this film is the thick sense of reality it gives--of a world of co-workers and friends which you never fully encompass. You're seeing a slice of life, and you feel there's much more life extending out in all directions.

The direction is subtle, understated but beautiful compositions and a lovely way of starting with a shot and then moving to another without a cut. Many frames are filled with people, and a sense, again, of thick life surrounding this story. Either I missed it when it came out, or didn't get it and forgot, but this time it was a revelation to me.
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Worth seeing but flawed
laurel210007 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I think Claude Sautet was a brilliant film maker and A Heart in Winter is one of the all-time great films.

However, A Simple Story, IMO, disappoints in a number of ways.

I think the script cavalierly devalued the role of a father in a child's life. The character of Romy Schneider first unilaterally decides to have an abortion and then, not too long into the future, decides, again unilaterally, to get pregnant. All without any consideration for input from the respective father. The subtext of the script-- the sensibility behind the script -- transmits the message that this is as it should be.

There is also a scene in which a man with whom Romy Schneider's character has broken up waits for her outside her building late at night and drunkenly confronts her. The episode turns violent. This former love begins striking her and even throws her to the ground. A trio of passersby comes to her aid. They begin hitting the guy to subdue him. The Romy Schneider character comes to his defense and tells them to leave him alone. They walk away castigating each other for getting involved.

Although this "domestic violence" episode had escalated to the point where the Romy Schneider character could have been seriously hurt, the film gives the impression that the jerk was not the guy who was being violent, but instead the jerks were the good samaritans who had stopped to help.

This kind of values sensibility behind the script left me alienated from the film and wondering. Claude Sautet -- who are you???

Additionally, the only actors whose work and presence I found interesting were Romy Schneider, the actor who played her son and the actor who played the son's father. Everyone else was pedestrian. JMO. I thought the group of friends surrounding Romy Schneider's character were for the most part boring and not screen worthy.

It was very sad, however, watching the suicide storyline of one of the characters play out, knowing that Romy Schneider herself had several years later tragically taken her own life.
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