Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Doubles vies
France, 2018. CG Cinéma, Vortex Sutra, Arte France Cinema, Playtime, Arte France, Canal+, Cine@, Cinécapital, Cinéventure 3, Cofinova 14, Indéfilms 6, La Banque Postale Image 11, Sofica Manon 8, SofiTVciné 5, Lynk Investments Trading Service Construction. Screenplay by Olivier Assayas. Cinematography by Yorick Le Saux. Produced by Charles Gillibert. Production Design by François-Renaud Labarthe. Costume Design by Jürgen Doering. Film Editing by Simon Jacquet. Toronto International Film Festival 2018. Venice Film Festival 2018.
Olivier Assayas expresses his concern over the changes in technology that are influencing the ability of art to inspire humanity, centering this film primarily, though not exclusively, in the publishing world. Guillaume Canet is excellent as a publisher who takes a meeting with writer Vincent Macaigne about his latest book, and their conversation about the efficacy of printing on paper in the era of digital saturation leads to a dialogue-driven journey into the way their personal lives run alongside their professional ones. Canet is having to weigh the reality of people reading great works of literature on their smartphones, his company even flirting with the idea of getting into bed with a telecom corporation, while Macaigne is wrestling with issues of creativity and the meaning of “auto-fiction”, fielding criticism from his public about the amount of personal biographical detail he puts into his work; ironically, the former is married to actress Juliette Binoche (as usual, mesmerizing) while having an affair with work colleague Christa Theret, and the latter is having an affair with Binoche that she is dismayed to find he has put into his latest manuscript. Assayas is the modern master of the kind of Intellectuals In Cafes movies that the French do so well, he hearkens back to the likes of Eric Rohmer’s My Night At Maud’s, films in which endless debate is somehow flashy enough for cinema despite how physically static it all is. The whole cast is outstanding, none better than Nora Hamzawi as Macaigne’s frustrated wife, who is herself having to deal with the social media age while working on a politician’s election campaign. Assayas uses these characters to wonder about these topics but he hasn’t made up his mind about them, and what plays as a bewitching series of conversations and conflicts eventually paints itself into a corner; the conclusion reveals that he doesn’t know how to end this film, but it’s still a journey worth taking.