Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Original title: Histoire De Marie Et Julien
France/Italy, 2003. Pierre Grise Productions, Cinemaundici, Arte France Cinema, V.M. Productions, FM2B Productions, Canal+, Eurimages, Cofimage 14, Gimages 6, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Region Ile-de-France, Procirep. Scenario by Pascal Bonitzer, Christine Laurent, Jacques Rivette, dialogue by Pascal Bonitzer, Christine Laurent. Cinematography by William Lubtchansky. Produced by Martine Marignac. Production Design by Emmanuel de Chauvigny. Costume Design by Laurence Struz. Film Editing by Nicole Lubtchansky. Toronto International Film Festival 2003.
A clockmaker (Jerzy Radziwilowicz) quietly goes about his days in solitude, interrupted only by visits to a mysterious Madame X (Anne Brochet) whose secrets he is exploiting for blackmail money. He runs into a previous lover (Emmanuelle Béart) and the two of them start their relationship up again, she even helping him in his quest to get as much money from Madame X as possible. The story takes on metaphysical aspects when more intense secrets are revealed, and the clock maker (who is ironically always out of sync with time) starts to realize that it is more his need to put a rest to his love for this woman that has been guiding the relationship all along, not necessarily her desires. Though this hauntingly romantic film is about as slow as staring at a ticking clock, it is done with such admirable intelligence and simplicity that it is never pretentious or overbearing. The actors do a perfect job, particularly a poetically beautiful Beart, and the film’s romance is only heightened by its languid pace. Keep paying attention to all the details as it progresses, as you will need to remember them in the film’s classic ending.