Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
France, 1993. D.A. Films, Les Films Alain Sarde, TF1 Films Production. Screenplay by Pascal Bonitzer, Andre Techine. Cinematography by Thierry Arbogast. Produced by Alain Sarde. Music by Philippe Sarde. Production Design by Carlos Conti. Costume Design by Claire Fraisse. Film Editing by Martine Giordano. Cannes Film Festival 1993.
Gorgeous miniature epic by Andre Techine, about the ties that are rediscovered when an estranged brother and sister connect over their mother’s failing health. Despite the fact that they have never seen eye to eye, Antoine (Daniel Auteuil) and Emilie (Catherine Deneuve) have a great affection for each other; their differing personalities and his lack of sympathy with her husband make for some pretty hairy family reunions. When their mother (Marthe Villalonga) suffers a series of strokes and can no longer live alone, they have to work out their differences and decide what is best for her. The plot is threadbare, and also includes a minor exploration of their two children (including Deneuve’s real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni), but the delivery is rich; Techine’s dialogue never falters throughout, even at points when it threatens to turn art-house pretentious, and he directs the actors into such captivating bursts of feverish intensity that create a tension that hold you for the entire film. Gorgeous work by all, with Deneuve showing a rarely-seen, bewitching vulnerability, and Auteuil at his most mercurial.