Shown in competition at Cannes, this prestige production is director François Dupeyron’s fifth film and tells the story of a young World War One officer, Adrien (Eric Caravaca), who is wounded in the first days of the war when a shell explodes in his face. Adrien is cared for by the army’s plastic surgeon (Andre Dussolier) and he spends the rest of the war in the officers’ ward, preparing for a new life.
The film is described by Dupeyron as ‘the story of a destroyed man who finds within himself the strength to live. It relates to the rebirth of this man and is a magnificent tale of love. The war is just the background. It could just as easily be the story of a man recovering from an accidentoa modern story. The novel also contained the material to make a significant film on war without ever falling into the trap of violence or showing any fighting.’
Noble, sensitive and consistently moving, this beautifully crafted and performed film is imbued with a certain matter-of-fact grandeur. Combining restraint and sentiment, Dupeyron’s direction creates an aura of incremental bravery and recovery as the protagonists are gradually healed by early re-constructive surgery, kind nurses and their own fortitude. France, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Anamorphic. Dolby digital stereo. 134 min.