26 August 1999 | Zardock-2
Clever film on the meaning of love.
In this clever take on love and relationships, the affairs of three people are enigmatically portrayed. Everyone adores Bernard's wife Florence. His friends lust for her, her friends envy her. She is very beautiful, and for Bernard there is nothing more left to desire. And that is precisely what troubles him: she may just be too beautiful. His secretary, a temp named Colette, is completely the opposite to Florence. But in her physical unattractiveness Bernard finds a refuge to his peculiar dilemma. Despite of what may seem as a logical explanation, he is not plagued by an inferiority complex. What drives Bernard is the psychological force of the middle-age crisis. Some people wonder whether what they have is as good as it gets. Bernard actually knows that. The second he is near Florence he knows that that is true; gazes of his friends reassure him in that.
With Colette, however, he feels completely at ease. There is no need for self-assertion and he is free to choose. Naturally, there is much more to this film, which is full of surprises and unexpected events. The only country where such a complex and somewhat surrealistic plot could have been brought to life, where careful avoidance of turning the film into a soap opera, a pointless comedy, or a tedious drama meets with the bittersweet taste of love and desire is France, and the philosophy of love, the satire, and the superb acting -- Depardieu, Bouquet, and Balasko make a lovely team -- are also typically French here. Ironically enough, the question of the age is inverted to "what does a MAN want?"