Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2014 Cannes Marathon: A Man and A Woman

(Co-Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival)

Directed shot, and co-edited by Claude Lelouch and written by Lelouch and Pierre Uyterrhoeven, Un homme et une femme (A Man and a Woman) is the story about a widow and a widower who both meet at their respective children’s boarding school as they both forge a relationship based on loss as well as memories of the past. The film is an exploration into how a man and a woman meet and fall in love as well as explore the world of grief. Starring Anouk Aimee and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Un homme et une femme is a ravishing and enchanting film from Claude Lelouch.

There’s usually a scenario when it comes to love stories about how a man and a woman meet as it’s often typical of most romantic-based films. Yet, this is a film that is very different since it is about a widow and a widower who are still mourning the loss of their spouses as they meet one day when dropping their respective child at a boarding school as Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant) drives Anne (Anouk Aimee) to her home where the two become friends as they would spend weekends together with their kids. It’s a film that doesn’t just explore two people coming together but also in the way they deal with grief as their past with their deceased spouses are shown in flashbacks.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t have much of a plot yet it does take its time to explore this growing relationship between Jean-Louis and Anne as they talk about what they do as the former is a race car driver while the latter is a script supervisor. The flashbacks reveal not just Anne’s life where her husband Pierre (Pierre Barouh) was a stuntman as they worked together on film sets but also Jean-Louis’ life as a driver that often cause worry for his wife Valerie (Valerie Lagrange). While both of them have busy jobs as it’s the major reason why their children are at a boarding school in Deauville, they do make time to see their kids as it becomes clear how much the kids like each other as it would also play to the loneliness they’re dealing with when they’re not with the children. It would lead to the two to come together but there’s a lot of emotional baggage the two would have to deal with.

Claude Lelouch’s direction is very simple not just in terms of the compositions he creates but also in the way he deviates from convention in his approach to two-shots, close-ups, and medium shots. Notably as he often goes for something that plays into Jean-Louis and Anne dealing with their loneliness as they don’t have a lot of conversations while most of the flashbacks don’t have a lot of dialogue. Also serving as the cinematographer and co-editing the film with Claude Barrois, Lelouch aims for a very offbeat style as he shoots the film in color as well as black-and-white and sepia-based tones either to act as a flashback or scenes just involving Jean-Louis and Anne. The editing is also offbeat with its approach to jump-cuts as it plays to some of the film’s emotional tone as it can range from being upbeat to being melancholic. Overall, Lelouch crafts a very engaging and touching film about two people coming together through grief and loneliness.

Production designer Robert Luchaire does nice work with the minimal set pieces from the homes Jean-Louis and Anne live in to the restaurant they eat with their children. Costume designer Richard Marvil does terrific work with the costumes with the stylized clothes that Anne wears to the more straight-laced look of Jean-Louis. The sound work of Jean Barronet and Michel Fano is superb for the simplicity of the sound in many of the film‘s locations such as the beach the characters spend with their children along with the way the engines sound when Jean-Louis is driving. The film’s music by Francis Lai is amazing as it‘s this mix of serene orchestral music with some light-hearted jazz often accompanied by an organ as it includes some songs with lyrics by Pierre Barouh that plays into the emotional aspect of the film.

The film’s incredible cast includes some notable small roles from Simone Paris as the school headmistress, Souad Amidou as Anne’s daughter Francoise, Antoine Sire as Jean-Louis’s son Antoine, Valerie Lagrange as Jean-Louis’s late wife, and Pierre Barouh as Anne’s late husband. Finally, there’s the performances of Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aimee in their respective roles as Jean-Louis and Anne. Trintignant is brilliant as this man who is a bit of a child yet ponders what he’s lost and the guilt he carries as he starts to fall for Anne. Aimee is radiant as this woman who misses her husband as she also deals with her loneliness as she finds company in Jean-Louis. Trintignant and Aimee have great chemistry in the way they react to each other as they both display sensitivity and charm to their roles as they really are the film’s highlights.

Un homme et une femme is a remarkable film from Claude Lelouch that features outstanding performances from Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aimee. The film is a very low-key yet mesmerizing film that explores two people coming together through chance and grief while pondering the idea of moving forward. In the end, Un homme et une femme is a sensational film from Claude Lelouch.

© thevoid99 2014


Anonymous said...

SONOFABITCH! This is ALSO on my DVR. I need to watch this now.

thevoid99 said...

Dude! You need to do your own Cannes marathon as there's a bunch of great films that won the Palme d'Or.