This cool and engaging debut feature, a tale of marital strife, is striking for its minimalism, and with some echoes of Ozu.
Director Elise Girard has drawn on her experience as press attaché for a chain of low-cost art house cinemas for the background to her portrayal of an impossible marriage. Marie (Valerie Donzelli) is shattered when her husband Julien (Jeremie Elkaim), a film critic, informs her on a station platform, as he heads off on a foreign trip, that he is leaving her for someone else.
Three months pregnant, she seeks consolation with her parents and in her work for Jean-Jacques and Jean-Loup (Philippe Nahon, Jean-Christophe Bouvet), the founder-owners of the Action cinemas (landmarks for all self-respecting Paris movie buffs). She starts receiving phone calls from Julien, at first expressing concern for her, then telling her that he misses her, then asking for forgiveness.
In next to no time he is back in the marital bed. The marriage appears to be back on the rails, but he remains tetchy and equivocal. When he leaves for a two-week absence, ostensibly to attend a film festival in Tokyo, she discovers by accident that he has stayed in Paris to spend time in another woman's flat.
His reassuring phone calls to her, supposedly from Tokyo, have in reality been made from a communications centre in the Paris district of Belleville. The story is divided into monthly chapters running September through March. There's a minimum of camera movement, a minimal score and an appropriately minimal running time of 75 minutes. Shown in competition at Hamburg, Stuttgart and Sao Paulo Festivals. (subtitles)
With thanks to INSOMNIA for this UK Premiere.
France · 2011 · Elise Girard · 75min