13 June 2009 | dbdumonteil
Love stopped in my hand
Michel Drach's second effort after a good start with "On N'Enterre Pas Le Dimanche " ,and his first movie starring his then-wife Marie-José Nat.Today ,Michel Drach has sunk into oblivion ,because of an uneven career ,his convincing works ("Amélie" " Elise Ou La Vraie Vie" "Les Violons Du Bal" )are forever juxtaposed with his worst ("Guy De Maupassant" ).One should also note that most of his best features Marie-José Nat who was to him what Stephane Audran was to Claude Chabrol: the actress's sensitivity was in perfect harmony with Drach's directing.
If his "Maupassant" was a ludicrous failure ,in spite of a comfortable budget and of famous actors (Simone Signoret,Claude BRasseur),his "Emilie" ,based on an obscure novel by Michèle Angot ,reminds the viewer of some of Maupassant's short stories .The atmosphere is a Provincial one,where the characters are almost mummified ,caught up in a cozy routine where every minute seems like days .Best example when the three young people sit at the table and the father tells them they's forgotten something (thanking the Lord).Amelie is a gorgeous young girl,too touchy for her own good,in love with her handsome cousin Alain (Jean Sorel,whose wooden acting is not too embarrassing in that context).
Enter a conjurer and his daughter (Sophie Daumier,cast against type,for she was primarily a comic,working with her then-husband Guy Bedos).The doves he conjures up are in direct contrast to the birds in the cage Alain feeds.Emmanuelle represents all that Amelie is not: she's got erotic power ,and her suggestive song ("Ca Fait Peur Aux Oiseaux") cannot fool anyone.On the beach,as she says she's hungry,Alain gives her an oyster ! The scene of the ball is the turning point of the movie: it's folk music which represents immutability too.Alain ,who got engaged to Amelie -more because his passion for Emmanuelle frightens him - realizes he's only a passing affair to her as she changes partners faster than the music.A short scene highlights Amelie's problem:when she involuntary becomes sexy for a short while,she sees a young man looking at her and she feels confused.
Emmanuelle epitomizes the modern woman,most of the men around have astutely perceived her firm independence of men .Amelie is the romantic orphan girl of the nineteenth century,whose only hope is marriage .If Alain can find some consolation in sailing away ,Amelie cannot find any way out.
The story consists of two flashbacks ,but they are so smartly introduced we never realize they are flashbacks.Looks are more important than words and Alain's hand trying to reach something finds an exact equivalent in the last scene.Music is kept to the minimum;when "Elise Ou La Vraie Vie" was released ,Drach told he thought that music scores were a survival from the past in the movies.
A demanding work,which grows on you.