Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Mademoiselle Chambon

Yet another work of cinematic art that I watched a few months ago and never had a chance to write about. This 2009 French film isn’t at the same level as Turtles Can Fly, but if you enjoy beautifully-acted slow-moving European romantic dramas, then you will certainly want to check this one out.

Mademoiselle Chambon stars Vincent Lindon, one of my favourite French actors, as Jean, a contractor and happily married man who falls in love with his young son’s teacher (and violinist), Veronique Chambon, brilliantly played by Sandrine Kiberlain. I have given away the entire plot but it doesn’t matter because we all know what’s coming from early on. Knowing it is part of what makes the film so breathtaking. The other part is watching the way these two actors interact with each other, conveying their growing feelings with very little dialogue. Perhaps this duet is so successful because the two actors were once married to each other (and then divorced). Both performances are what can only be called understated.

Veronique could not be more different from Jean’s wife, Anne-Marie (played well by Aure Atika) and obviously this is part of what attracts Jean to Veronique. But what are Jean and Veronique to do with their mutual attraction? Clearly they know the consequences of going too far, so… Well, I won’t give away the ending.

Stephane Brize’s direction is flawless, as is the cinematography. So why am I not giving Mademoiselle Chambon four stars? Well, some films are a little too slow even for me and the middle of this one took just a bit too long. And the latter part of the film did not entirely work for me, though others will no doubt see it differently. I do give it a very solid ***+. My mug is up.

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