These days, Jean-Louis has receded into a retirement home, diminished to a shell by encroaching senility. He has fits and starts of memories from his glory days behind the wheel, but mostly he spends hours sitting outside and gazing into the distance, thinking about the one who got away.
His very presence hovers several layers above the ambition of the movie to come. And so does Lelouch: As the pair reconnects at the retirement home, with Jean-Louis at first mistaking Anne for a stranger and then gradually reassembling their past, Lelouch lays on the nostalgia so thickly that he smothers the potential of the gentle buildup. As for me, I share Thomson's feeling that the people are too pretty and the story too sentimental, and the children are too adorable, and I can't stand that damned dabba-dabba-dah, dabba-dabba-dah music.
But I'm reluctant to pass that kind of value judgment unless I can fully understand what I am watching. And, frankly, I don't understand this movie.
It leaves me with a host of questions that I cannot answer. I pick up quite a lot of these rather striking details. The most striking of all, of course, is Lelouch's switching from black-and-white to color. That really catches your attention! But in an interview he confessed that he had shot this way for financial reasons.
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His American distributor wanted a film in color, but he couldn't afford color film stock. So he compromised, shooting the exteriors in color and the interiors in black and white. Hardly a creative, aesthetic decision.
A Man And A Woman
I wish there were a better explanation for the color shift and explanations at all for my other questions. I can't see how I can put these aspects of the film together to form an artistic whole. Unless and until I can do that, I can't really like the movie, and I don't like not liking movies that everybody else likes.
It's much more complicated than this film, but I think, more satisfyingly integrated. Detail after detail fills out its themes. I recommend it to you. Perhaps you will do better. Why include a long take of a red tugboat that interrupts the opening introduction of the two main characters and their different time styles?
Movies in Theaters
Why are we told that Anne lives on a street where Lenin once lived? Why the repeated emphasis on the phone number, Montmartre ? Why the camel? Why the sheep? Why the self-reference when Jean-Louis asks, Why don't people take movies seriously? Why the self-reference in the restaurant when these two actors discuss the possibility of their being actors?
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Why the little boy's rendition of Coca-Cola in different languages? The word is the same, but the framework varies? Is this somehow connected to the two time schemes? And this is evident in the disconcerting flatness of the performances of Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aimee as they pursue their erratic courtship. They seem two dimly sentient beings moved by memories of conventional affections and the compulsions of ordinary love.
They are the only characters of any consequence, and the fact that they become only puppets for the creator's concept of the visual beauty and torment of romance is but another indication of the distinctive stylization and the dramatic weakness of this film. There are English subtitles for the French dialogue.
Running time: minutes. Anne Gauthier. Anouk AimeeJean-Louis Duroc.
A Man And A Woman (The Lady's Tutor. #) by Robin Schone
Jean-Louis TrintignantPierre Gauthier. Pierre BarouhValerie Duroc. Valerie LagrangeHead Mistress. Simone ParisAntoine Duroc. Antoine SireFrancois Gauthier.