In France, before WWI. As every Sunday, an old painter living in the country is visited by his son Gonzague, coming with his wife and his three children. Then his daugther Irene arrives. She is always in a hurry, she lives alone and does not come so often... An intimist chronicle in which what is not shown, what is guessed, is more important than how it looks, dealing with what each character expects of life.Written by
I saw this film many years ago and loved it and just rewatched it again, this time, on DVD with Bertrand Tavernier's commentary. I must say that I love it now even more. The two words that permeate throughout his film rhythm and time. It is strange to me that he does not say that impressionism was a major inspiration in the work, in fact he says the contrary. Yet I've noticed many films where the director meant to do something only it was taken very differently by the viewers and I guess this was such a case.
Anyway to get back to the film, in hearing Tavernier's commentary, I now realize how musical the whole film is, it's lazy, Sunday tone, then Irene (Azema) coming in like a tornado, then quiet conversations, then someone getting stuck in a tree, then another quiet conversation, then a dance...a series of stop starts that lulls you in its rhythm, but awakens you again with bursts of life and vitality.
In speaking of time and the passage of it, Tavernier encapsulates the life of Mr. Lamiral in one Sunday afternoon, and all the bittersweet sadness, through his relationship with his children, grandchildren, maid and himself through his actions and voiceovers made by an all knowing narrator.
I feel a sense of pride that Tavernier points out in his commentary the poignant scenes which I was so touched by in the first viewing. The scene where Irene tells herself that her niece would die young, the scene where Irene and her father speak of painting, The narrator supplying profound insights on M. Ladmiral about his indifference to his grandchildren. Gonzague's and his wife's decency, but utter clumsiness, living a life bounded by convention and security.
I also learned so much about camera movement through Tavernier. He describes not only the how, but why certain shots are shot they are and you begin to understand why certain scenes provoke certain emotions not only through dialogue and setting, but also how you hear something and see something. One scene where Gonzague and his wife are having an argument and M. Ladmiral comes into the scene but rather than say a word to interrupt, he concludes to himself that it is pointless and leaves the scene without uttering a word. Such a scene tells so much, the relationship of the couple, the father's relationship with the couple, and the father's relationship with himself, all in the frame of a 5 second shot. I'm grateful to M. Tavernier for having created such a beautiful film and added such brilliant insight on the nature of this work.
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