Suzanna Andler (2021) IFFR 2021

February 4th, 2021
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Benoit Jacquot | France, Drama, 88′

A romantic chamber piece for Charlotte Gainsbourg to strut her stuff and she makes a soigné star in YSL, faux fur and high-heels in this sophisticated drama from Cesar winning Benoit Jacquot (Farewell My Queen, Eva).

Set in a sumptuous seaside villa in Cannes – reminding us to get our skates on for this year’s revised July festival – it muses on the constantly changing dynamics of love and fidelity, and the continuing fascination for women of a certain age by younger men.

The young guy in this case is Michel (Niels Schneider most recently seen in Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats). Gainsbourg plays forty something Suzanna Andler who describes herself to the estate agent showing her the villa, as “the most cheated-on woman in the Riviera”. Her millionaire husband Jean (who never appears, but speaks to her over the ‘phone from Chantilly where he also has a lover) will spend two weeks there with the family, she will then be joined by Michel keeping a low profile, naturellement.

Jacquot bases his script on a 1960s play by the famous French novelist, director and actor Marguerite Duras (he worked as her assistant in the early 1970s), set back in the day when it was ‘de rigueur’ to have a lover to compensate for the confines of the marital bed, and here cleverly escapes the strictures of the stage with an evocative seaside soundscape, the lush villa is a character in itself, and a beachside walk with the third character Julia Roy (who also appeared in Eva) as her daughter, Monique.

Staying faithful to the original, this is elegantly performed and delightful to watch, its discursive love story playing out amid gentle lulling waves and seagulls on a spring day on the Riviera, distilling the essence of this magical part of France. MT

Rotterdam Film Festival 2021 | LIMELIGHT STRAND

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