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Adaptation of a novel by Patrick Modiano, "le parfum d'Yvonne" represents another Patrice Leconte's success. To make this film, the director drew from several elements dating from his previous movies. Thus, the doctor Meinthe (excellent Jean-Pierre Marielle) is very close to Michel Mortez in "Tandem" (1987) while Yvonne's sensual beauty evokes Mathilde's in "the hairdresser's wife" (1990). So, Leconte turned a novel into a personal movie.
This movie tells a past love story that brings on a deep nostalgia due to gorgeous summer pictures enhanced by a luminous photography. It's almost a poetic and dreamlike work. And however, this happiness is too good to be true. Indeed, behind this idle and free life, hide zones of shadows. Victor Chmara claims to Yvonne that he is a wealthy Russian earl but he's nothing of the sort. He's just a young man who fled Paris so as to avoid his military enlistment (we are in 1958 and at this time, it is the Algerian war). Moreover, he wants to go to the USA but Yvonne refuses because Victor can't speak English. So, she leaves him and there's this famous sentence that says: love stories, in general don't have a happy ending. It is true.
Leconte built his movie on a long flashback and he alternates the story with two of the main characters' current situation. From this moment, we can take down a strong contrast between the shiny pictures of a celebrated and distant summer and the dark photography to connote a dull present that shows the main characters' distress and bitterness (especially the doctor Meinthe).
A beautiful and bitter movie. If you are a fan of Patrice Leconte, don't miss this one.
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