L’homme de sa vie | The Man of My Life
DIRECTOR: Zabou Breitman | WRITERS: Agnès de Sacy, Zabou Breitman | CAST: Bernard Campan, Charles Berling, Léa Drucker, Jacqueline Jehanneuf, Éric Prat, Niels Lexcellent, Anna Chalon, Antonin Chalon, Léocadia Rodriguez-Henocq, Caroline Gonce : Ilse | France
An understated, beautifully shot and edited movie about two men in their 40s who find unexpected camaraderie and perhaps more with each other over a summer in Provence. Frédéric is a contentedly married, upper middle class man summering with his wife and children and widowed mother at his gorgeous house in a small town in Provence. His wife and children have noticed that someone has moved into the vacant house next door — a neighbor who likes to swim in the nude, they note with amusement and interest — and Frédéric invites him over for an informal dinner on the terrace for family and friends. Hugo is a conceptual artist/graphic designer who’s almost defiantly gay and single, and his and Frédéric’s after-dinner conversation stretches to dawn. Director and co-writer Zabou Breitman shows snatches of the conversation over flashforwards, some repeated from different angles or focuses, and stylized dreamlike sequences that flirt with surrealism, to show how the relationship that began with this almost chance meeting develops and changes the two men and the people around them. It sounds precious and confusing, but Breitman’s hand is usually assured and she captures those beginning stages of what might become a — I don’t know, deeply meaningful friendship? love affair? — beautifully. The texture of the movie reminded me a great deal of some of Alain Resnais’ early movies in its handling of time and attention to tiny details that in themselves are nothing special but that in context mean a great deal — sudden glances, the flicker of a smile, tucking a stray clothing tag on someone’s shirt. Not a perfect movie by any means and there are some awkward moments that are jarring, but I really loved it. Oh, and the acting in general is quite good, but Bernard Campan and Charles Berling are superb.
I can’t not comment on the dreadful English title for this movie since it destroys the ambiguity of the original French. Boo hiss!