Friday, 18 July 2008

Les Égarés (2003)

André Téchiné has a very special place in my heart. One of his movies had a deep influence at a particular moment of my life, and just perhaps, things might have been different (worst even) if the timing hadn’t been so perfect. Ever since that first experience I have stumbled across some of his films, which aren’t exactly easy to find in the home video market outside France(*) (or in some cases have had atrocious DVD reviews). All this to say that last night I watched his 2003 film Les Égarés.

The film tells the story of a young widow and her two children who are fleeing Paris to escape German occupation. During an air raid they lose their car and meet a strange young man who helps them. They find safe harbour in the country house of a Jewish composer who has closed it and possibly left to somewhere else. They develop into a strange family until the arrival of two soldiers (I would venture deserters but I couldn’t exactly figure it, as they seem to have been told to go home) precipitates a sequence of events.

The film is beautifully shot and the performances of all main four characters are incredibly good. And this is where the film could have failed as most of the time there are only these characters around. Emmanuelle Béart’s woman just about managing to keep herself together is touching, and was the one I most engaged with. The pace, although slow, seems to mount the tension and suit the film.

However, what impelled me to write about the film were two main reactions to the film that I found on IMDb. The first is the fact that the ending does not provide a complete closure of the characters. Well, it did to me. Téchiné has never provided full closure in the films of his I have seen. In Les Roseaux Sauvages the ending is rather frustrating, but here, like in J’embrasse pas I felt the story was done with, and anything else would be a different chapter.

The second comment, or rather series of comments (there two topics at least on the subject), concerned the dialogue in the film’s sex scene. I really wanted to shout to people to grow up and grow a brain, because honestly, it is perfectly clear what Gaspard Ulliel says to Emmanuelle Béart, and the why is explained shortly after.

(*) - Shortly after I posted this, found out of a new R1 boxset which contains among others "Les Roseaux Sauvages" and "J'embrasse pas". As the French DVDs have no subtitles in ANY language, if there is no R2 release with subtitles in a language I can follow, it's nice to know there is an option.

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