At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
The Alliance Française is currently featuring the work of Alain Resnais.
The Alliance Française shows its series of French films in a small room in their building at 138 Charoen Prathet Road. The building is directly opposite Wat Chaimongkhon, near the Chedi Hotel. Tell your taxi "Samakhom Frangset" and/or "Wat Chaimongkhon." A contribution of 30 baht is requested; you pay outside at the information desk of the Alliance Française proper.
At Alliance Française on Friday, December 18: Cœurs / Private Fears in Public Places (2006) by Alain Resnais – 121 mins – France/ Italy, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 77/72 out of 100.
With Pierre Arditi, Lambert Wilson, André Dussolier, Isabelle Carré, Sabine Azéma, Laura Morante, Bruno Podalydès.
In the swirling snow of the French National Library district in Paris, six characters strive to fill their empty lives. Two estate agents, a former soldier and his wife, a barman, a young woman and an old invalid try to escape the black cloud that threatens to descend...
– Alliance description
Rotten Tomatoes: Nominated for eight César awards in its native France, Private Fears In Public Places is an intelligent, adult look at loneliness in the twenty-first century. Directed by French master Alain Resnais, the film examines the interrelated lives of six main characters who are trying desperately but failing at making real, long-lasting connections. Charlotte (a bewitching Sabine Azéma) is a Bible-reading real estate agent who takes care of Lionel's (Pierre Arditi) vile, ailing father at night. Thierry (André Dussollier), a coworker of Charlotte's, is showing apartments to Nicole (Laura Morante) and Dan (Lambert Wilson), an engaged couple who can't agree on anything. And Gaëlle (Isabelle Carré), who lives with Thierry, her older brother, is looking for love through the personal ads but instead keeps coming home alone. Based on the play by Alan Ayckbourn, Private Fears In Public Places is beautifully shot by Eric Gautier, particularly the scenes in the colorful bar where Lionel works and Dan drinks away his frustrations. Scenes are linked together by falling snow, adding a chilling cold to the pervasive loneliness. The acting is uniformly excellent, with especially good turns from Azéma, Arditi, and Morante, who won the Francesco Pasinetti Best Actress award at the 2006 Venice Film Festival, which also awarded octogenarian Resnais the Silver Lion as Best Director. Resnais eschews modern technology in this carefully stylized world; the characters don't spend their time endlessly on computers and cell phones, and Charlotte even gives Thierry a videotape to watch, one that has been taped over many times yet still retains some of its previous recordings, as if parts of the past can never be erased.
Ozus’ World, Dennis Schwartz: Alain Resnais handsomely lays on us an accessible and emotionally charged theatrical wryly comical melodrama about six lonely diverse characters searching for love in a snowy Paris, who are all so alienated in their hermetic urban setting that they find the snow poetically falls inside their apartments. It's adapted by French playwright Jean-Michel Ribes from the recent play by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, with the setting changed from London to Paris.
The film's stunning visuals are one of its strong points; the wonderfully pastel interior shadings are a feast for the eyes. Also, the strong ensemble cast joyfully goes through the airy material and keep things deeply affecting in a way most Hollywood relationship films only screw up. Anyway you slice it, this is a richly flavored artifice that nevertheless realistically maps out the heartfelt urges of its sympathetic characters and tempers it by boldly suggesting that chance (in this case, being in the right place at the right time) often is the most important determinant of a good relationship rather than love.
The Village Voice, Jim Ridley: the snow falls, in Resnais' exquisite comedy-drama, on a Paris of color-coded soundstage interiors, some without ceilings or even a fourth wall. Six characters, either nearing or passing middle age, combine and recombine into couples, seeking the warmth of human connection against the chill outside.
The sets are deliberately artificial; the longing and isolation they contain are genuine. Coming from a director who made some of the most challenging and form-breaking films of the nouvelle vague era this quasi-farcical fugue on loneliness and the difficulty of forging new loves late in life seems almost quaint in its mixing of golden-age cinematic gloss and transparently theatrical design. But Resnais' mastery shows how avant-garde the movie equivalent of a well-made play can be.
Visually and dramatically, the movie is partitioned into small sections. The script, adapted by Jean-Michel Ribes, consists mainly of brief two-character vignettes, some barely lasting a minute. No one keeps our company for very long. The effect, at times, is of channel-surfing among six stations of simulcast melancholy. Among Resnais' trash-TV referents here is the lowly soap opera, that boon companion to the lonely and housebound.
The breezy accessibility of Private Fears in Public Places does not make it any less a work of art than Resnais' more difficult early successes. The effervescence of his direction disguises its formal rigor: the horizontal stripes that recur from set to set, subdividing apartments into compartments and walling off characters; the blocking that equates physical barriers with mental minefields; the coolly precise camera movements that shift the emotional focus within a scene. By the same token, Resnais' intellectual engagement in no way diminishes the charm of a flawless cast at work. Resnais is now 84 years old; perhaps it takes eight decades of living to make a movie this compassionate, this confident—and this young.
At Alliance Française on Friday, December 25: Holiday! No screening.
At Alliance Française on Friday, January 1: Holiday! No screening.