Many contemporary French filmmakers seem to be unaware that a fleeting smile or a gentle touch conveys an emotion far more effectively than having the characters talk endlessly about their feelings.
What a delightful surprise it is then, to find that the most romantic country in the world can still produce a subtle love story.
The plot of Mademoiselle Chambon, the latest film by Stéphane Brizé (based on a novel by Eric Holder) is simple. Jean (the great Vincent Lindon) is a construction worker with a loving wife and son, but falls in love with his son’s beautiful teacher Mademoiselle Chambon ( played by Lindon’s ex wife, Sandrine Kiberlain) .
Brizé and Florence Vignon – with whom he co-wrote the César winning script – , are more interested in creating well-rounded characters than offering the audience a tired moralistic depiction of adultery or an idealistic paean to l’amour fou.
By focusing on small but poignant instances in the main characters’ everyday life, the film perfectly captures the sudden but mutual attraction between two people who , while having entered the mature stage in their lives still feel lost-Jean in the unsurprising routine of marriage and Veronique in the loneliness of living on her own. The diverse range of emotions that the characters feel (from happiness, to guilt and uncertainty) is exquisitely displayed by the wonderfully expressive faces of the two marvellous actors and the film slowly becomes one of the most realistic and touching love stories of recent times. Near the end of the movie when you hear, for the last time, the wonderful Valse Triste by Franz von Vecsey, instead of shedding a couple of tears you will feel that rare knot in your heart, the one that only great movies can cause.
Final verdict: A sublime combination of subtle moments and powerful emotions
(Words: Apostolos Kostoulas)
[stextbox id=”custom”]In cinemas September 23rd. Click here to see a trailer of Mademoiselle Chambon [/stextbox]