Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. France, 2009. TS Productions, F Comme Film, Arte France Cinema, Canal+, TPS Star, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Rézo Films, Sofica Soficinéma 4, Région Provence Côte d’Azur, Procirep, Angoa-Agicoa, MEDIA Programme of the European Union. Screenplay by Stephane Brize, Florence Vignon, based on the novel by Eric Holder. Cinematography by Antoine Heberle. Produced by Milena Poylo, Gilles Sacuto. Music by Ange Ghinozzi. Production Design by Valerie Bille. Costume Design by Ann Dunsford. Film Editing by Anne Klotz.
Vincent Lindon is wonderful as a builder whose factory worker wife (Aure Atika) throws out her back and requires him to go pick their son up from his grammar school in their small town. At school he meets his son’s teacher (Sandrine Kiberlain) and they have an immediate spark between them, nothing tawdry but a bond that they are helpless to avoid exploring. He fixes a window in her house and then asks her to play violin for him, which expands his imagination and only intoxicates him further, so that when they begin to carefully explore a physical connection they do so with plenty of care but no ridiculously overwhelming guilt. This subtle film about big moments in small lives does not rewrite the book on intelligent and thoughtful French cinema, and there’s more than a little class snobbery involved in showing a working class man discovering a new reason for living because he is exposed to classical music. Thanks to Kiberlain’s not playing her character like a ridiculous bourgeoise, and Lindon’s never overdoing the gruff, silent type, it comes off as honest and sweet, though for everyone it won’t exactly be riveting.