21 June 2005 | Sagewhoknowsheronions
Very understated, sadly underrated.
I have only seen this film about three times and that was years ago but somehow it has stayed with me. The plot is inconsequential; the synopsis tells you most of it, the film just dots the Is and crosses the Ts, but it is copperplate not shorthand. Almost everyone concerned with it had great artistic and commercial success after making it, the director, for instance, Claude Berri, who also wrote it, went on to do Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources; it has therefore been overshadowed in all the careers it helped to shape.
The acting, locations, cinematography and editing by Etienne Becker and Arlette Langmann respectively, are a delight to behold and the film matches it's star in beauty, intelligence and style; I am surprised in many ways that it is not more appreciated than it is. There is a winter scene of them arriving at her home in the country for the New Year's Dinner at the crux of the story that makes me want to sell up and move there, and I don't like snowy winters!
The casting is perfect for a story of a woman who has had her share of interesting lovers - Catherine Deneuve and Gerald Depardieu coming into their prime, Serge Gainsbourg, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Christian Marquand already at home there. The reason for the number of lovers is Alice's elegant inability to cope with the boredom of long term relationships and her sophisticated ability to handle the break-ups and, of course, the fact that her beauty and personality will always attract someone new while the discarded ones hang on as friends.
Part of the interest is to see the traditional male attitude embodied in such indisputable femininity. This is no ladette copying the men, or a strident feminist getting her own back on the offending sex. She simply lives her life on her own terms without rancour or regret.
This film should be more widely seen, it is sad that even in France it is only available on video, not DVD and does not seem to be available elsewhere at all.