Un Coeur en Hiver (1992) Poster

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A very sad film but beautifully realized
Howard Schumann2 June 2002
Brother, can you spare a heart?

In Un Coeur en Hiver, the late Claude Sautet looks into the heart of Stephane, a master violin craftsman (Daniel Auteuil), and finds only ice. Stephane is an observer of life, not a participant. The film reveals the consequences of his emotional isolation, of what he has to give up in order to maintain his solitude.

Un Coeur en Hiver is as far from a typical Hollywood romance as Casablanca is from L'Avventura. The film is almost a revisionist portrayal of the usual debonair French romantic lover. While the lovely sonatas and trios of Maurice Ravel form a haunting background, there is a lifeless quality to Stephane and ennui is a palpable presence throughout.

Stephane seems ready to leap into a passionate relationship with a beautiful young violinist, Camille (Emmanuelle Beart) after Maxim, his partner for many years (also in love with Camille), introduces her to Stephane. Stephane, however, is unable to relate to Maxim's friendship or to his growing attraction to Camille and becomes distant and manipulative.

Held back by his reluctance to take risks, his relationship with Camille provides him with the forms of intimacy but without the substance. No pat psychological interpretation is provided but is left to the viewer to interpret. The camera is reserved and intimate. For the most part, emotions are conveyed through glances, expressions, and silences rather than dialogue.

The scene where Camille finally explodes out of frustration over Stephane's emotional distance, however, is powerful, yet is not enough to shake the reluctant lover from his hiding place. At a restaurant, Camille tells Stephanie, "He says he likes music because "music is dreams". "Poor jerk", she blurts out, "You know nothing about dreams". Pointing to his heart, she says, "There is nothing in there, nothing. No imagination, no heart, no balls". Stephane simply sits there with a half grin on his face. I could really feel Camille's frustration in trying to pluck fruit from a barren tree.

Auteuil's outstanding performance makes him a likable figure, a really sweet guy but a very sad one. I felt repeatedly like shaking him from his lethargy and exposing him to joy and the rhythmic beauty of life, perhaps adding a little Mozart to his Ravel.

At the end, however, there is some character development. Stephane finally recognizes that "there is something lifeless inside of me." As his friends depart, he is left sitting alone at a restaurant table, poignantly feeling his loneliness. Perhaps this insight is the beginning of his transformation. A very sad film but beautifully realized.
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Who cares about plot? As beautiful to listen to as to watch.
icon-76 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.
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The Violinist-Psychologist not quite in Love
Eelsnake22 February 2002
The plot revolves around the 'love triangle' of Camille, Stephan, and Maxine. Camille is a young up and coming concert violinist, and Stephan and Maxine are violin craftsmen. Camille is one of their many clients. The main character of this film, Stephan--played by Daniel Auteuil--is brilliant. He is a good looking and quiet man who knows what he wants and is secure in this: solitude--regardless of the amorous advances of Camille, the beautiful and brilliant young violinist who winds up dating his business partner Maxime, and whom he could seduce very easily. Many people analyzing Stephan's character would immediately say that he is sociopathic, deranged, insecure, or whatever. But Stephan is actually fully in control of his life throughout the whole film. He is not aware of fleeting passions like infatuation because he does not exist outside of passion: He is passion incarnate as he is very in tune with what he wants and is skillful at asserting his desires; so much so that those who encounter him become very jarred. His personna functions as a mirror that reflects other people's neuroses and fears back at them instead of absorbing them into itself and thus becoming poisoned. In this way, he's almost like a freelance mobile psychoanalyst passing through different bistros and concert halls in Paris, and disrupting the otherwise 'normal' relationships of those he encounters. The psychological tension throughout the film is thick from the start, and reaches a point of absolute saturation at its apogee. The viewer cannot help but find himself emotionally invested in the plot. The background score of the film is beautiful.
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My favorite film
naked-city31 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is beyond doubt my favorite film. An odd choice, but it is so. I first saw it here in the USA a couple of years after it was released in France. I had no idea what it was about or what the tone of the film would be. I think I caught it on Bravo when Bravo was good and commercial free. From the start, I was hooked and have not changed my opinion since then even though I have seen the film probably about 12 times. I have seen it with others and I respect their criticisms and dislike of the film, esp of Stephane, but all the same, I still love the film. Not only is it my favorite, it is also the most influential in my life. If I made or wrote films, I would do one like this.

About the film itself, all the performances are wonderful, not only Auteuil and Beart, but also the smaller roles like Bourgine as Helene. The camera is simple, but effective in this context. And the finale is superb, a high moment in cinema history. Stephane trapped behind the painfully clean café window, each passers-by caught in the icy glass, but the camera caught on the resigned stare of Stephane until the picture freezes and fades slowly to black over the score of Ravel. Truly one of the most devastating scenes on film. Above all, glass and windows play a huge role in this film, maybe some sort of statement that Stephane leads a reflected life, sees life only through glass or in reflection, but never seems to be able to touch life itself. And all the glass is extremely clean, reflecting every little detail.

Sautet may not be one of the greatest French film makers, but late in life he produced two remarkable films: this and Nelly et M Arnaud. This one is his masterpiece.
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A great movie! (9/10)
riccardo721 November 2002
If you are after car chasings and unreal fight/action scenes, don't even consider reading further and even less watching this movie.

This movie is about human psychology and love. These characters are tormented by a feeling of inadequacy, by strong unresolved love, and deep affection. It's a modern greek tragedy. It reminds us of the real human nature, unlinear, never simple. Forget the white/black type of hollywood movies. The real world is not like that. We are not just good, we are not just bad, we can be strong and weak at the same time. This movie manages to remind us this in the context of a difficult love story accompanied by one of the most beautiful scores ever.

The whole movie seems to have been written and built around this sad, unusual and beautiful music by Ravel (piano sonata for trio).

If you are an intelligent person you'll love the poetry and soft touch of this movie.
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Happy Ending?
allirish6 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
* Spoiler*

I must comment on the conclusion one viewer drew that Maxim and Camille lived happily after. Just one look at Beart's exquisite face at the end tells you that happy is one thing she isn't. And Maxim says that Camille 'comes and goes...', seemingly resigned but certainly not happy himself. There are so many ways to interpret the ending, again demonstrating Sautet's brilliant directing and the nuances in Beart's and Auteuil's performances. Is she moving on with her life, leaving him behind? Are they both imprisoned within different walls of glass, unable to reach each other? Poignant, multi-layered, French film at its best!
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Beart's performance is heart-wrenching!
kevhaw6 August 2002
Un Coeur En Hiver is a deeply moving film. Beart's achingly beautiful performance as a violinist who becomes infatuated with an emotionally stunted craftsman, is breathtaking to behold. The craftsman, played by Auteuil, displays an almost unbelievable emptiness of emotion, as he rejects the "unrejectable" Camile(Beart)! The soundtrack of this movie conveys as much emotion as the lead characters do, and is hauntingly beautiful to the ear. This movie is a must for Beart fans! Just seeing those beautiful intense eyes is reason enough to view this film.
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C'est froid, ca!
djkleanser8 December 2004
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I wish to convey that I view this movie as one of the greatest ever made. (That is, if you can cope with it). Un Coeur is an exquisite and worthy swan song for veteran filmmaker Claude Sautet.

I know people who do not like this movie and charge its precepts as self-indulgent, stodgy, and other such indictments. Of course, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. For me however, the scene in which the character played by Ms. Beart is rehearsing Ravel with her quartet and the character of Mr. Auteuil stares her down as only a man from France can do; with a heady combination of lust, reluctance, and sobriety- that scene takes 'psychodrama' to a new level. C'est froid, ca!

There are only a handful of movies at the top of the mountain of Parnassus. For me, this is one of them. Bravi.
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chrishend6 September 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Claude Sautet is a genius, pure and simple.

This is an incredibly beautiful movie, with sparse, multi-layered dialogue. You would absolutely never find a "love" story quite like this one in the U.S. This was made by a true craftsman.

At times it felt like there were 2 movies going on at once. One that's going along with the dialogue, and another that is pure subtext. Anyone interested in screenwriting should take a look at this thing. Sautet can do with one sentence what it takes others pages to pull off.

*mild spoiler*

The movie also has one of the best endings I've ever seen. There are a few ways to interpret it, and the way you do interpret it has more to do with you as a person than it does about the movie. Very sad, but also hopeful, like some of Woody Allen's endings except put together much more skillfully. If you have it on tape, please rewind and watch the very ending a few times. The dialogue is so subtle and brilliant it'll take a while to get an interpretation. Not one letter is out of place.
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A beautiful violinist obsessed with unrequited love...
Peegee-313 August 2000
This is a haunting film...in its visual beauty, in its performances and certainly in the sensitive direction of Claude Sautet. Auteuil and Beart are perfectly cast. It's a unique theme...in that a beautiful woman obsessed with a man cannot arouse any real passion or interest in him..because as the title implies, his heart is frozen. What I found particularly moving was how both Auteuil's portayal and the script itself made him, for me, a sympathetic figure...I felt I could understand him and feel his inner angst (for whatever psychological reason).

Beart too gave her characterization a depth and a reality that made me not only believe in her plight, but remember when I had some of those same feelings. The violin playing and exquisite music also added a lovely melancholy touch. For me, this was Sautet's masterpiece. Wish he were still with us to give the world more of his talent.
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A True Masterpiece
Insp. Clouzot20 April 2003
Marvelous actors. Wonderful music. Subtle dialogues. A true masterpiece with 2 (may be 3 with Andre Dussolier) outstanding performances by Emmanuelle Beart et Daniel Auteuil. Finally a credible analysis of love - meaning not the stupid usual fare from Hollywood - with all its meanders, its non-linearities.

Part of my all times top 10 list.

Note : you need to watch it at least 3 times to grasp all the subtleties, the finesse of the dialogues. Also as so often the case with French movies the ending is open to the viewer's interpretation which makes the movie that more moving and special.

Note 2 : Fans of Hollywood type action movies please abstain.
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Everything that is wonderful about French cinema
simon-1185 September 2000
No-one can portray emotion in cinema as well as the French, as this movie proves. Auteil is wonderful as the stoic and enigmatic central figure, a man of few words and even fewer facial expressions who is both fascinating and exasperating. Emmanuel Beart is surely one of the most beautiful figures to grace the screen; her eyes say all the things her words fail to. One of the many qualities to admire in this film is that what the characters do not say is more important that what they do, and rather than being vague and ambiguous, which is a polite way of often saying muddled and obscure in movies, everything is confidently conveyed through expressions and actions. This is a film that knows exactly how much to say and what about. There are some brilliantly subtle clues to Auteil's character. "Have you ever been in love?" Beart asks."probably," he replies and nothing more is said. yet despite it's casual nature we remember that comment and without any more help we conclude that this may be the real reason for his isolation now, a desperate attempt at self-preservation. The music is brilliantly chosen, and the camera draws things out of the frame naturally...Auteil touching Beart for the first time when crossing the road, the wonderful coffee shop scene, that slap from Maxim. There is also some excellent humour, especially in the argument between the old couple Auteil witnesses from outside their house. It is interesting to compare this film with Three Colours: Blue which I saw the same evening, a more explicit depiction of isolation, equally powerful through different methods.
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Makes me fall in love with French cinema all over again
lamer7622 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Not many movies can draw a parallel between music and love with such delicate refinement as Sautet's Un Coeur en Hiver. The film revolves around an unspoken unrequited love between Stephane (Auteuil), a violin craftsman, and the beautiful Camille (Béart), a violin virtuoso and also his patron's lover. For some reason, either out of loyalty to his friend, fear of commitment or a conviction that he does not deserve anything as perfect, or maybe a mixture of all three, Stephane pulls away. He not only pulls away, he does it with such ruthlessness that comes in complete contradiction with his character. A character that holds a violin as if it were the most fragile item in the world, and yet does not hesitate to shatter a woman's heart by simply saying, "I have decided to seduce you without loving you." But in the end, as he himself realizes, he is only destroying himself. This movie makes me fall in love with French cinema all over again.
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a beautiful, beautiful movie without sentimentality, but with great music and wonderful depths of feeling by the actors
ronzoni100113 July 2005
a beautiful, beautiful movie without sentimentality, but with great music and wonderful depths of feeling by the actors. Highly recommended, especially for Auteil, and Beart, who has never looked more stunning. I don't see why I should have to write more than this, since brevity is the soul of wit-as one English wag once said, even though I'm not trying to be witty. However, I'll do what it takes to convince you that you should see this film if you like French film or just film in general. The movie reverses the stereotypical Hollywood gender clichés and, in so doing, invigorates the entire genre of the tragic romance.
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Sensitive, moving story about adults
trpdean2 September 2002
Warning: Spoilers
As I watched this, I felt it's so nice to see a movie about adults, adult emotions (or their absence) and adult behavior. It's very moving.

Although I think the director and screenwriter intend for us to sympathize primarily with Beart's inability to draw out Auteil, in fact (having so often been in her shoes myself) I felt instead, time and again: "leave him alone, let him be who he is".

It is Beart's character's immaturity and vanity that cause her to believe that there must be something terribly wrong with someone whose feelings toward her do not correspond to her own feelings toward him.

As someone who has "taken away" a married father, and within days apparently, looks to betray him with another unattainable man, I was not greatly sympathetic toward her plight. After all, unreciprocated love is routine when one meets a stranger. The likelihood of any particular person falling for one - just because you are drawn to him/her is very slight.

Beart's character's inability to accept this, her outrageous scene at the restaurant, her coldness toward him when he seeks to mend fences after her outrage - all make me dislike her.

**** SPOILERS *****

I find deeply disturbing the movie's showing of Auteil's willingness to engage in a mercy killing as the sign of his love for someone. Pity is certainly different from love - and murder is different from self-sacrifice.

I was also enraged by Maxim's slap of Auteil - it seemed absurd that his primary emotion - on leaving his family for someone and arranging for an apartment - on hearing that his paramour was in unreciprocated love with another, would not be anger at her, jealousy of the object of her affection, desire that she change, regret at his abandonment of his family for his lust. Instead, he is absurdly angry that the unwilling object of her affection has embarrassed her by failing to return the feeling! This strikes me as a very untrue emotion.

I found the ending that Maxim and Beart's character lived happily ever, equally unbelievable. Clearly Beart will take up with whomever NEXT struck her fancy as unattainable! How could Maxim have so little self-regard as to deal with these outrages after he has abandoned his soul with his family?

**** SPOILERS ****

All that anger/disbelief aside, this is a very fine movie - one that is wonderfully sensitive, adult, fascinating. I'd recommend it.
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you would be surprised ,knowing how a movie could change someone's life.
nazanindayhimi11 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not someone who could be easily touched. But this movie was just like a shock to me. The characters, the music and the atmosphere that Sautet has created are beautiful and also fragile-just like in real life. I can't deny that this film showed me a new dimension of my own character-maybe of human character. And about the music ,it awfully fits the movie! Maybe a reason that I'm impressed so much is the music.Ravel is my favorite compositor. But also casting is fabulous.Just like everybody knows even exactly how to breathe. Let me add a sentence from the dialogue which was so impressing for me: There, look at a man touched by grace...

Mr. Sautet I am touched by grace.I Thank you.hoping you hear me from paradise or anywhere else ...
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a must see
cerbu19 April 2005
not too much i can say, either you'll love it or you'll be frustrated.there is no use telling the story.

if you love it you will know why, probably because it strikes a chord in you and you can relate to one of the characters or situations.

if you hate it, well, i can think about worse ways to spend 90 minutes.

I loved it and I watch it over and over.

Auteuil and Beart really shine, and the film is neatly done. You'll be surprised to learn there is more to Ravel than Bolero.

Too bad the DVD is not available in region 1 and the tape is poor quality( btw, the cover is deceiving,definitely commercial, there is no flesh in the movie and there is no need for any).
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Intense Yet Subdued
Lex-132 September 2003
This film has had a large impact on me when I first saw it.

This is a profound film. Not necessarily in its dialog or even in its plot, but for the depth of the artistic sensibility it displays. An art film in the best sense of the word.

What most influenced me was Auteuil's character. As strange as it may sound to some people, I aspire(d) to achieve his level of honesty and levelheadedness. While some viewers probably thought most actors in this movie to be "cold," their coolness plays on an impressive array of nuances. All of this could be analysed, of course, but it might be best to let the film impregnate us.

This film may easily please those who are nostalgic of the Paris life it represents. Similarly, the film shows impressive sensibility to classical music and to the life of classical musicians. It also plays on beauty on several levels and, certainly, Emmanuelle Béart is at her best.

But, as I'd say, one of the saddest things in life must be how beautiful women can be when they cry.
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Romantic Beautiful French Film
Carol3 June 2004
I saw this movie over ten years ago but I still remember it as a beautiful, sensitive, moving film. Emmanuelle Beart was incredibly beautiful in a cold blue eyed honey-haired way and Dan Auteuil was so handsome in that sexy laid-back French way. What I remember best about it, though, was how good the music was. The music was the best thing about it, combined with the beauty of the actors and their bittersweet romance. In fact, afterwards, I rushed out and bought the music of Ravel as performed by the Britten String Quartet for the movie. This is that kind of good movie. I highly recommend it for those who would like to see Emmannuelle Beart at her peak of beauty and to listen to the tender, yearning music of Ravel.
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In a Lonely Place
As with THE SILENCE--and, really, most of Ingmar Bergman's best work--this is a film of quiet grace, a subtle film that takes patience but is ultimately deeply rewarding by the end. It's a love triangle of sorts between two friends, a bachelor Maxime and his quiet friend Stephane who are business partners running a violin repair shop. Maxime begins a relationship with the beautiful violinist Camille, who soon becomes attracted to Stefane, who does not overtly return her advances. Stefane is really a voyeur who belongs in the same group as Harry Caul, L.B. Jeffries and Damiel the angel, all people who are flawed or broken in some way on the inside and feel compelled to look at others only from a distance, refusing to become involved. They seem to understand from behaviorism the depths of other people but can barely conceal their own loneliness or broken relationships--Stefane correctly states that he can never give Camille, or any "normal" woman, what she deserves. He deliberately pushes her away when he feels pressured into intimacy. He loves music and handles his violins (which can be argued are shaped like an ideal female body, revealing Stephane's asexuality) the way Maxime and other "normal" men handle women. Director Claude Sautet has a gift with letting human drama unfold, and he carefully studies the behavior of his characters, who come alive without force or question, so much that the audience feels like a you're listening on close friends fighting. Then a real-life couple, Emmanuel Beart and Daniel Auteuil are stunning (such a great, unique romance for a real-life couple--you couldn't ever imagine Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie ever tackling this together), hitting all the right notes (pun intended) with the precision and understanding of great actors, and even better human beings. Auteuil in particular is spectacular because of Stephane's deep introvert nature, and Auteuil has to allude to so many conflicting emotions that are barely visible beneath the surface, and he does so much just with his eyes, which flutter with happiness and fall with regret with perfect grace.
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Thoughtful and brilliantly acted
ashankz11 January 2009
I think it is an engaging and thoughtful movie - the kind that you keep thinking about, long after you have finished watching.

The plot deals with the central character's coldness in relationships with people around him. He is definitely gifted in what he does. He is sincere and hardworking. People around him tend to be friendly and caring. But it seems our guy has some intimacy issues – he can't go beyond a certain level.

I am not really sure as to what message did the movie want to convey. It can't just be - if you are cold in nature, you are a loser. I don't think Stéphane was cold by choice – he couldn't just change his nature so as to make others happy. I found it odd that a person of such nature would speak with frankness and openness about these issues – the way Stéphane tells Camille in the restaurant. His friendship with Hélène also seems unexplained - what was the basis – did they expect it to go further?

What struck as peculiar was attention given to details on mundane activities - like the craftsmanship involved in making musical instruments or dealing with the restaurant manager. In some ways, these elements helped in keeping one occupied and expectant of things to come.

Daniel Auteuil's portrayal of Stéphane was very natural. Always immaculately dressed, the way he interacted, sometimes with a smirk on his face - it made you empathize with his character. Also at times you felt like saying - what's wrong with this guy? – probably the kind of response director would have wanted to evoke from the audience. Emmanuelle Béart has acted brilliantly and looks amazingly beautiful. André Dussollier also put in a strong performance in his portrayal of Maxime.

Dialogues are thoughtful - but at times their gravity made you feel that these are not the most natural of conversations. Cinematography is splendid – with close shots of characters and focus on eye and facial expressions.
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Nearly perfect
bjacob1 December 2006
This is one of the most accomplished movies I ever seen. Brilliant dialogs, wonderful acting, moving music, a perfect mix of sobriety, passion, psychological violence and reserve.

At the heart of the movie, the character of Stephane is an enigma for the other characters and for the viewer. Who is he? What does he wants? Sautet doesn't embrace any psychological analysis for him: he could be neurotic, or a closet narcissist, or a perfect normal person. The director is very subtle in providing the viewer with plenty of little details about him, but refraining from pointing the finger at a single explanation. Still, the character is incredibly life-like and we comes to see him as it was a real person. It is worth noting that, although he wrote completely original stories, Sautet used to use real life, identifiable individuals as models for his characters.

I've seen Un coeur en hiver many times, but still each time I discover something new. Arguably the best Sautet movie and one of the best movies ever.
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What's not to love?
iam14 June 2006
Exquisitely beautiful film.

Performances are sublime. I'm sure I could watch a thousand films without any of them coming remotely close to the layered beauty and grace of this one. As wonderful as it is to watch the trio of Auteuil, Dussollier and Beart, you can sometimes enjoy this movie with your eyes closed. Mais pourquoi? Ravel's music is brilliant beyond words and imagery. Even if you don't care to watch the movie again, which should not be the case if you appreciate the intelligence and artistry of French cinema, check out the soundtrack. Have had my CD for more than 10 years and it's a keeper. Film scores don't get much better than this.

So much for happy endings!
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Wonderful, heartbreaking tale of a love story that never was..
Celine-310 March 1999
Un Coeur En Hiver is a film which stays with you for life. Once you've seen it and experienced its heartbreaking tale of love and loss you never want to let go of it. It's difficult to describe what's so unique about this film, what really grips you. It's not just the love story or rather the love story that never is. It's a mixture of the incredible tension between the characters, the heavenly music which tells us more about the characters than they do themselves and the magnificent acting. Emmanuelle Beart deserves so much credit for her role as Camille Kessler, she really is the most radiant French actress of her generation outshining such actresses as Sophie Marceau. And Daniel Auteuil, what can I say, his acting is so understated and expressive that you take his character to heart in spite of his seemingly heartless actions towards Camille.
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Thought it was heartfelt and true.
odysseus75 March 2000
This film had a great impact on me. I found it very touching and emotionally involving. The violinist was passionate and compelling (E. Beart) and the violin maker was withdrawn and afraid of his passions. He had stopped playing the violin because he didn't like the sound of his own music...the music of his heart. He has a thousand reasons not to follow his heart and be with this woman, but none of them make any sense. I found a lot of myself in his character.
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