Jean-Marc Vallée / France/Canada / 2011 / 120mins
Amid rumours that Vanessa Paradis and long-term partner Johnny Depp are soon to separate (a claim the couple vehemently deny), Paradis stars in Jean-Marc Vallée’s reinterpretation of the traditional love story. It focuses on Carole’s (Hélène Florent) past and present (2011) difficulties with now ex-husband Antoine (Kevin Parent) and their two daughters in Montreal, after Antoine dissolved their marriage upon discovering new love. Paralleling this is 1970s Parisian single mother Jacqueline (Paradis), struggling as her son Laurent (Marin Gerrier) who has Downs Syndrome, matures away from her maternal devotion.
Vallée’s film is gallingly fractured; the scenes flit like Memento between continents and eras without much explanation of what connects them, other than the ill-treatment of these exasperated women attempting to sustain their relationships. When combined with widespread slow-motion montages and lingering shots of faces or scenery, disappointingly this translates as an overshadowing pretentiousness posing as cinematic artistry. There are tender moments, as with Jacqueline and Laurent’s silly faces through the school windows, supported with a soundtrack that effortlessly remixes 70s hits. However, even the musical plotting, a metaphor for constantly changing emotions, is overstated until its significance becomes devalued. By corresponding the discriminated disabled child and the unfaithful spouse, what Vallée highlights most is the hypocrisy between behaviour that is deemed monstrous and actions that partners are forced to accept.
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