Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
France, 2015. Les Productions du Trésor, StudioCanal, France 2 Cinema, Les Films de Batna, Arches Films, 120 Films, Canal+, Cine+, France Televisions, Cofinova 10, La Banque Postale Image 8, Cinémage 9, Palatine Étoile 12, Region Ile-de-France. Screenplay by Etienne Comar, Maiwenn. Cinematography by Claire Mathon. Produced by Alain Attal. Music by Stephen Warbeck. Production Design by Julyan Giraux. Costume Design by Laetitia Bouix. Film Editing by Simon Jacquet. Cannes Film Festival Awards 2015.
Emmanuelle Bercot is a successful lawyer who runs into an old acquaintance (Vincent Cassel) at a club and spends the night with him, which then turns into a running affair, which goes onto pregnancy and marriage. Not long after the serious legitimization of their relationship, things go wrong and they do so quickly: he spends too much time with his ex-girlfriend, whose recovery from addiction he is mentoring and, he insists, nothing else, while Bercot is overcome with frustration at the freewheeling manner with which her husband treats all his commitments, a quality she found sexy in the beginning but now drives her mad. They are constantly at each other’s throats but every time she goes to make the right decision about freeing herself from a bad situation, he draws her in with his seductive promises and charms, until she puts her foot down and decides, for the sake of herself and her child, that her life is better off without passion if it’s going to have so great a downside. What we really want to know is where this is all headed, since throughout the scenes of their relationship, director Maiwenn treats us to flash forwards of Bercot recovering from a skiing injury in a rehab centre where she seems to be living a new life. Co-winner of the prize for Best Actress at Cannes, Bercot couldn’t be more captivating in the lead role, her instinctive reactions to the people around her and her delicious laugh making her endlessly watchable despite how very much the film comes up short with rewards. Normally it would be aggravating to watch a character be so foolish over someone not worth her time, but the smart casting of Cassel, who always seems at once impishly destructive and irresistibly sexy, makes it wholly comprehensible that these two would fall into the pattern that they do (and the same goes for her, as her aura of intelligence with a side of wild is something he would very believably be unable to shake off). The connection between the two time periods that the film takes place in is dissatisfying, however, and the ending defies logic, abruptly finishing without the kind of closure or wisdom it seems to be implying but rather relieving us of the trauma of having to go on. That and the fact that her being a lawyer is never all that convincing are serious drawbacks, but you’ll be amazed at how compelling it is to see these two very charismatic characters through to their admittedly dissatisfying end.