Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Original title: Comment Je Me Suis Dispute…Ma Vie Sexuelle
France, 1996. France 2 Cinema, La Sept Cinema, Why Not Productions. Screenplay by Emmanuel Bourdieu, Arnaud Desplechin. Cinematography by Stephane Fontaine, Eric Gautier, Dominique Perrier-Royer. Produced by Pascal Caucheteux. Music by Krishna Levy. Production Design by Antoine Platteau. Costume Design by Claire Gerard-Hirne, Delphine Hayat. Film Editing by Laurence Briaud, Francois Gedigier. Cannes Film Festival 1996. Toronto International Film Festival 1996.
This early film by Arnaud Desplechin shows some aspects of the brilliant work he would do later on, but is not very successful overall. Mathieu Amalric is highly charismatic as a man who cannot make up his mind: whether or not to do his doctorate, whether or not to become a full professor at the university where he teaches should he get his doctorate, and whether or not to get serious with his on-again, off-again girlfriend (Emmanuelle Devos) or continue his affairs with Jeanne Balibar and Marianne Denicourt (both of whom are attached to his friends). Like all the very best French films, it plays out in cafes and dinner parties, with long conversations between characters who are beautifully candlelight and enchanted by the gentle influence of good wine. Unlike Desplechin’s probing Kings And Queen or his energetic masterpiece A Christmas Tale, however, this one is far too drawn out and its characters are never sympathetic enough. Amalric and Devos are particularly exciting actors who have gone on to deservedly magnificent careers, but Desplechin’s script (co-written with Emmanuel Bourdieu) never lets us get close enough to them (or any of the other personalities, for that matter), making its 180-minute running time quite the feat to endure. Chiara Mastroianni has a perfectly lovely supporting role as the girlfriend of Amalric’s cousin, plus look for a very early performance by a dewy young Marion Cotillard.