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Portraits chinois (1996)

Ada and Lise are both costume designers, the first is around 20, the other around 30. Both are working hard on their break through. There are also jobs for the movies. This is where Lise ... See full summary »


Martine Dugowson


Martine Dugowson (scenario), Peter Chase (scenario)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Helena Bonham Carter ... Ada
Romane Bohringer ... Lise
Marie Trintignant ... Nina
Jean-Philippe Écoffey Jean-Philippe Écoffey ... Paul
Elsa Zylberstein ... Emma
Yvan Attal ... Yves
Sergio Castellitto ... Guido
Predrag 'Miki' Manojlovic ... Alphonse (as Miki Manojlovic)
Jean-Claude Brialy ... René Sandre
Sophie Simon Sophie Simon ... Agnès
Emmanuelle Escourrou Emmanuelle Escourrou ... Stéphanie
Katerina Mechera Katerina Mechera ... Emilia (as Katia Mechera)
Mathilde Seigner ... Fanny
Artus de Penguern Artus de Penguern ... Gérard
Pierre Baillot Pierre Baillot ... Monsieur Verdoux


Ada and Lise are both costume designers, the first is around 20, the other around 30. Both are working hard on their break through. There are also jobs for the movies. This is where Lise meets producer Alphonse, who is nearly 20 years older than she. Because he is unhappy with his girlfriend a secret relationship evolves. Ada has problems as well, but she's not the only one. There are also the young Emma and Nina, as well as Yves and Guido - enough people to get into complicated relationship entanglements. Written by Marco Radke <ds@serve.com>

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Comedy | Romance


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UK | France



Release Date:

25 June 1997 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Shadow Play See more »

Filming Locations:

Paris, France


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,972, 7 November 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$16,367, 10 September 2000
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Did You Know?


Features Notorious (1946) See more »


Toute seule
Written by Peter Chase
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User Reviews

Group of friends with shifting allegiances portrayed
22 April 2008 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

It was interesting to see this film directed by the woman who made the fascinating 'Mina Tannenbaum', which succeeded better than this one, possibly because it involved fewer characters. This is an ensemble piece on the 'group of friends' theme. These are not as easy to direct as they seem, as there are too many balls in the air at one time. The main problem with this attempt is that we don't really care about these people very much, because they are silly and spoilt and self-indulgent. Apparently, this film is meant to deal with this issue satirically, but this dimension was lost on me, as I am not French and clearly 'don't get that'. The only character with whom I had the slightest sympathy was the one played by Romane Bohringer, who always seems to make her characters of compelling concern, even when they should be repellent. Here again, as in 'L'Appartement', made earlier the same year, Romane plays a girl in the compulsive grip of obsessive love. She is eerily convincing at this, and she must be dangerous to meet, in case she becomes fixated. She gets 'that manic look in her eye' and you have to run! Strangely, Romane seems much slimmer in this film than in the one made earlier in that year. Her performance is certainly the best, but not far behind are Helena Bonham Carter and Elsa Zylberstein, who are also extremely powerful in their performances. Helena B.C. (there is no A.D. version) seems more at ease and casual in this film than in her English films, and as a foreigner her French sounds great to me, though doubtless the Academie Francaise would accuse her of something, and so would those shoulder shruggers to be found all over Omnia Gallia which as we all know divisa est, as no one there ever stops quarreling or quibbling. This film gets better as it goes along, starting rather slowly, with us not knowing who everybody is for some time. Eventually it all pulls together and we think 'how quaint', wistfully thinking: 'Wouldn't it be nice if I cared?' It was disturbing and tragic to see Marie Trintignant in this film, knowing her terrible fate to come, poor girl. She seems shy and occasionally a bit spaced-out, with a hint of decadence, but does well, and one cannot help but sense, 'bravely', as she seems by nature an introvert who was forcing herself to perform in public against her nature.

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