We are delighted to present four memorable features by writer/director Claude Sautet (1924-2000) during the IFI French Film Festival 2019.
Sautet started to direct relatively late in life, after a long apprenticeship as a film critic and screenwriter. Each of his films is a carefully crafted drama, with subtle, tender observations often on the lives of small groups of people through fragments from their daily life – their friendships, loves and intimacies. Often overlooked outside of France, Sautet’s elegant films tell simple stories where nothing and everything happens. Pursuing the same themes throughout his career, he collaborated again and again with many of the greats – Romy Schneider, Michel Piccoli, Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil and Emmanuelle Béart.
DANGER AHEAD – Saturday 16th: 13.30
Sautet’s second feature, a fatalistic film noir, adapted from a novel by José Giovanni, sees Abel Davos (Lino Ventura), a gangster on the run, journeying home to France with his wife and children. In Nice he meets Eric Stark (a young Belmondo co-starring here immediately after Breathless), a new mob recruit sent to accompany Abel on the final stretch. “This early Sautet makes us feel compassionate toward the robber/gangster played matter-of-factly by Ventura, while abhorred at his cruelty in seeking vengeance. This portrait, filled with honesty and humility, is what makes this film so powerful and timeless.” — John Woo.
VINCENT, FRANÇOIS, PAUL AND THE OTHERS – Saturday 23rd: 13.30
The biggest public success of Sautet’s career, this is a melancholic and richly textured portrait of three lifelong friends grappling with being fifty, supporting each other in marital situations, break-ups, and professional and financial troubles. Shot during the 1974 presidential campaign that led to the election of Valérie Giscard d’Estaing, it presents a moving and accurate portrait of an era in French society showing men’s turmoil and women’s emancipation. With an
all-star cast that features Yves Montant (Vincent), Michel Piccoli (François), Serge Reggiani (Paul) and a young Gérard Depardieu, in the role of an aspiring professional boxer.
THE THINGS OF LIFE – Sunday 17th: 13.30
Middle-aged Parisian architect Pierre (Michel Piccoli), victim of a violent car crash, lies waiting for an ambulance. Drifting in an out of consciousness, his life flashes before him, as we learn of the mistakes he has made, moments of joy, and the choice he must make between two lovers. Chronology is fractured by voice-over and reverse slow-motion, flashbacks, speeding up or leaping back in time. This masterfully crafted romantic melodrama is accompanied by a gem of a score by Philippe Sarde. Sautet’s widespread acclaim cemented a partnership with actors Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider, and screenwriter Jean-Loup Dabadie.
A HEART IN WINTER – Sunday 24th: 13.20
Middle-aged Stéphane (Daniel Auteuil) – of a single and solitary nature – makes and repairs violins in his Paris shop with friend and business partner Maxime (André Dussollier), an extrovert, with marital troubles. Maxime reveals his love of Camille (Emmanuelle Béart), a beautiful, gifted violinist. When the reserved Stéphane meets Camille, there is an immediate connection and an emotional love triangle ensues. Winner of five prizes at the 1992 Venice Film Festival, including Silver Lion for Best Director, and two César Awards, this is a subtle, profound reflection on love, desire, and emotional conflict, mirrored by the music of Maurice Ravel.
The IFI is supported by The Arts Council