Au plus près du paradis (2002) Poster

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Strange, dreamy, romantic
trpdean14 April 2005
This will suit only some tastes: a dreamy, loosely plotted film about a (presumably divorced) Parisienne (Deneuve) grown very romantic in middle age - idealizing a man she spurned forty years before.

This viewer believes that the man has not gotten in touch with her again -that her longing imagination (spurred by repeated viewing of An Affair To Remember) has so taken over that she only fantasizes that he has left her (threw on the ground to a pursuing Deneuve an envelope containing) a note to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building on a particular day and time. The movie invites other viewers to instead believe that the man is simply cryptic and elusive, and has made such an appointment.

Fortunately for Deneuve's longing, she must go to New York for work (she is writing a book about a painter and must have three paintings currently in New York photographed for the book). While there, the photographer (Hurt playing a very goofy character) falls for her.

So, will she step into reality by taking up with Hurt who offers her love - or proceed further into the fantasy world by making her appointment at the Empire State Building? And if the latter, what will ensue? There are many inconsistencies in Deneuve's character - e.g., she has no sentiment about anything in her past - has just moved from her old home, has no desire to keep close relations with her daughter (and cleaned out her room), seldom attends reunions of the class where she knew the idealized Philippe - yet she aches with every couple she sees kiss and imagines Philippe everywhere.

Only reason to see this is for Deneuve -I'd never seen her play a character who can be rattled, silly, spontaneous - and she's wonderful. Hurt's character is however an idiot whom no woman would fall for - let alone both Paulina Porizkova (playing an art owner's wife involved with Hurt before her marriage) and Catherine Deneuve.

Finally, a warning to men: do not try Hurt's move with Deneuve at home. You will be injured.
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mooning_out_the_window17 January 2007
This film has grown on me with each repeat viewing. Deneuve is in every scene, so it helps if you are a fan, but then how can you not be? The film demonstrates on one level the connection that people can have with the cinema. How it turns a visual image into a feeling, and how also we can live vicariously through it. The director Tonie Marshall wanted Deneuve for this film, and if she had said no, the film would not have been made, it was Deneuve or nobody. This was because Marshal felt, as I have come to over the years, that Deneuve belongs to cinema. She is a legend. When you find a connection it should be kept, whether it is through an actor/actress, character particular film etc. Deneuve on screen represents film and everything about it, how she conveys feelings etc. The film sees Fannette try to find Phillipe, the love of her life from 30 years ago. She is recreating her own scene from An Affair to Remember, where they meet at the top of the Empire State Building. The film is sad at the same time as hopeful. The repeat viewings allow you to see the different layers of the film that are not apparently obvious at the 1st viewing. It can be seen as a romcom sort of film if you wish. But it is so much more. I hope you enjoy it, I am.
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Unpretentious fun, gorgeous cities and women...
Pasky10 May 2006
I just LOVED this movie. Pity I saw it on my (tiny!) TV. I wish I could have seen it in a real theater, on a huge screen. Paris, New York and Deneuve are gorgeous, dialogs and music are fantastic, and the light is beautiful. OK, the story is a little bit patchy, but who cares? You just watch this movie like you read a John Irving novel: you don't care if it's not a masterpiece, you just enjoy it! My biggest problem with this movie was the fact that they decided to dub the second half of the film. Even if Deneuve is dubbing herself quite well, it looks and sounds strange... Maybe Hurt's French wasn't good enough? For the rest, I found that all these "satellites" that evolve around Deneuve are just great: her doctor/lover who comes to check on her heart, her lesbian daughter who seems more mature than her own mother, her colleague who keeps crying because her lover left her (but who can't help noticing Fanette's beautiful shoes), her alcoholic brother whom she doesn't judge. And all these bits and pieces from Leo McCarey's 'An Affair to Remember'... The beauty of the film comes from this amazing paradox: it's a star who plays this 'weak' and lonely woman who is herself fascinated by movie stars. A beautiful present to a beautiful actress.
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NEAREST TO HEAVEN: More Of An Homage To Deneuve Than AN AFFAIR...
coffee_N_cigz11 April 2005
NEAREST TO HEAVEN a memorable line from the 1957 classic AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER is the springboard for this film...Fanette (Deneuve) is a woman living in regret over the fact she failed to commit to the love of her life during the best times of her life...she's haunted by him on every street corner, corridor, & movie theatre...his image seems to be burnt into her after years of waiting & wondering she finally gets a second chance at love...

The story is uneven & score is sometimes inappropriate to say the's more of a homage to Deneuve than the wonderful Grant/Kerr film...Yes, Deneuve is stunning & yes, the camera seems to caress her every move & expression...but...she comes across as very cold & distant...uncomfortable mostly...its quite believable men in Fanette's life have thrown themselves at her feet & she just shrugs them of them, Matt (Hurt) is a spontaneous photographer who's unexpectedly become her partner in NYC while she's there on business & a long awaited personal appointment...but it seems his character is written in as filler for someone to bounce Deneuve's dialogue off of...

Overall: Even if your a Catherine Deneuve fan as I am, you might want to skip this one...
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A Film for Fans of Catherine Deneuve
grow38620 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Warning this review may contain spoilers! I think that the best way to approach this film is to see it as a French film about the mid life journey of a beautiful French woman. The film is billed as a romantic film but I do not think it is romantic although it is about romance. The presence of American actor William Hurt may mislead the viewer to think that it is a traditional romantic movie but it is written and directed by Tonie Marshall who is half American but was born and raised in France. The journey of Fanette, at this point in her life starts when she met an old acquaintance and is reminded of Phillipe, an old love that she has not totally forgotten. Also, it so happens that the movie "An Affair to Remember" is showing in her local cinema. This movie also brought up old memories for Fanette. The hope to rekindle an old romance brought Fanette to New York where she met William's Hurt character, Anyway, if you love Catherine Deneuve like I do, you will enjoy the movie. She is still very lovely and did a great job here.
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A bit fuzzy at the beginning, but great acting, witty conversations and an unforgettable bar scene with Deneuve.
kirsikka21 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I have read devastating reviews of the film, but as a Catherine Deneuve fan, of course I had to see it. Though I have to admit I can understand most of the critics' reservations concerning the script, I think the overall bashing of the movie was somewhat exaggerated.

As for the writing, it's true, in the first half of the film the scenes piled one on top of the other are way too loosely connected, so while the writers might have meant them to show Fannette's background, the faces popping up here and there form quite an amorphous mess and apart from us seeing them, they don't add much to the actual story. (As for her brother's appearance, it took me almost the whole scene to figure out the man was the brother, and even then I wasn't completely sure.) In addition, the daydreaming, hallucinating scenes about Philippe are sometimes long and tiresome. Though Deneuve is gorgeous and her acting is flawless, in this first part I felt a bit confused about what the creators were trying to get at.

BUT: when Fannette arrives in New York, it's as if we, too entered a completely different universe. Their duo with William Hurt works brilliantly on the screen, their conversations are witty and funny and even wittier and funnier the way they act them; the two of them together suddenly become interesting and within a moment you get involved in the story, forgetting about Philippe and the strenuous blurry images of the first half (as is, most probably, the case with Fannette, too:)). The pace gets more lively, and watching the film more enjoyable. Here the conversations are excellent, they are the real heart of the story and beautifully mirror the development of the relationship between the two people. Both actors are very convincing and do excellently in their roles, making the most of the opportunities the dialogues offer them - Deneuve is beautiful as the nonsensical woman who seemingly doesn't care, and Hurt is a heartthrob as the confident admirer of Fannette.

I simply loved the end, even though I'd have enjoyed just a bit more conventional ending this time. All in all, it's an enjoyable film with a bit confused first half and a funny, sensitive, romantic second one. On top of that, there are some scenes which are little gems in themselves (the cinema or the kimono scene), and I think the writers managed to create (and Deneuve and Hurt to act wonderfully) one of the most creative and sensual erotic scenes in movie history (the bar scene). To that I'd give 20 out of 10 :). The movie is 7/10.
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Good Concept for a Movie
chrissy_dean0726 August 2003
I liked the concept of this movie, especially when it includes clips from one of my all time favourite movies "An Affair to Remember." Catherine Deneuve plays a hopeless romantic, who is trying to reunite with the love of her life that she had when she was young. The story takes place in France and in the US. The only problem with this movie is the language inconsistency. I would have liked it to either be all in English or all in French. Having to switch back and forth takes away from the movie. It might not be one of her best films, but it is entertaining. The chemistry between the actors is very real and adds to the story. All in all it is an okay movie.
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An acquired taste...
mjledonne18 July 2006
I really liked this film...the second time I watched it. I recommend a second viewing. Allow yourself just to enjoy it. I'm a film student and I had the good fortune of being assigned Deneuve's later work for my actor study. I watched this picture after seeing several of her well-known "masterworks" such as Indochine, Place Vendome, Ma Saison Preferee, and Les Voleurs. Growing up around film, I had the "Belle de Jour" Deneuve imprinted on my mind. Seeing this film changed that. In truth, this film is rather weak and predictable but it is worth watching just for Deneuve who shows us the other side of the "ice queen". She is quirky, dreamy, and often uncomfortable. Aging beautifully in my opinion, this film allows her to play sides of the human she normally does not touch. Toni Marshall wrote the piece for her and it is truly a homage and a joy to behold. Loved the incorporation of modern art as well. William Hurt seems miscast and slightly off his game, easily attributable to the horrible events of 9/11 that left the whole set distraught. He still manages some great one-liners. Marshall definitely has a clever idea for a film and for many viewers accustomed to foreign cinematic nuances, she will deliver. The DVD has extensive and interesting additional material. It's great to see some Paris, great to see innovative art, and wonderful to see Deneuve adopting a new element.
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waste of time
dirkvds1 September 2003
My wife rented this hoping to see some romance. Idle hope. Not much romance between Hurt and Deneuve. Nice to see that Deneuve can still play an attractive lady though. Hurt is on auto-pilot. There are some fragments from 'An affair to remember' making you wish you were seeing that old movie again instead of this French 'remake'. Definitively not worth the time.
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An Affair To Forget
writers_reign7 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
As an admirer of Tonie Marshall I was disappointed with this effort and of the four Marshall films I've seen (and own), Venus Beaute, France Boutique, Les enfants du salauds I have to relegate this to fourth place. Yet again Leo McCary's 'An Affair To Remember' crops up in someone else's movie. Maybe Noel Coward should have said in Private Lives 'strange how potent cheap MOVIES can be' and not 'cheap music'. Catherine Deneuve adores An Affair To Remember and sits through it time after time even going so far as to arrange a rendezvous of her own atop the Empire State Building. This doesn't gibe with her overall coldness not least to her own daughter but go to New York she does and there she meets William Hurt with not a shred of chemistry between them. It ends ambiguously but it's difficult to respond to on any level.
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