French director Robert Guédiguian’s tale of anguish and infidelity concerns Marie-Jo (Ariane Ascaride), a conflicted middle-aged woman who loves her husband and lover whom she has been having an affair with for the past year, equally.
Credit should be given to Guédiguian for not demonising or judging Marie-Jo yet the character still fails to evoke the level of sympathy that you would suppose her to. Her oft-repeated plea that she cannot help but passionately love these two men does little to provide insight into how she has arrived at her predicament. Her lover, the worldly, dark and brooding Marco (Gérard Meylan), is more of a cliché than a character. The most appealing and interesting character is Marie-Jo’s husband Daniel (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) whose gradual and painful realisation of Marie-Jo’s affair gives the film the majority of its depth.
The cinematography serves its purpose but is overall bland, while the selection of music is so misguided that it seems as if the songs were randomly picked with little thought for where they would appear in the film. The “deep and meaningful” conversations about the complexities of love alternate between being pretentious and embarrassing, while the sudden ending is completely ridiculous. Die-hard fans of French cinema will probably love this film while others will wonder what the fuss is all about.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 176, 2003