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La Femme de Gilles

Director: Frederic Fonteyne

FRANCE| 2004| FRENCH W/ENGLISH SUBTITLES| COLOUR| 108 MINS


Set in a grimy mining town in the thirties, Frederic Fonteyne’s new film initially seems light years away from his marvellous Une Liaison Pornographique, but in fact, the two have much in common. Thoroughly modern in setting and sensibility, the earlier film was a tour de force of psychological insight: a wonderfully teasing study of a couple obsessively involved in each other while they hide a secret.
Elisa, played by the eminently gifted Emmanuelle Devos is happily married to Gilles (Clovis Cornillac), who works in the local blast furnaces. She adores her husband and her life revolves around his daily return from work and the weekends they spend together as a family. One night, however, Gilles’s trip to the local tavern sparks nightmarish suspicions in Elisa: is her husband concealing a secret from her, or is it all in her imagination?
Constructing the film with minimal dialogue, Fonteyne uses his considerable visual skills to tell a story where agitated eyes and trembling lips communicate a world of emotions. This places a tremendous burden on his two masterful actors, especially rising star Devos, whose face is constantly searched for clues to what is happening between the pair. The film’s visuals are a further strength and joy; it is photographed with immense creativity as Gilles and Elisa move in and out of beautifully sculpted light and shadow, grappling with their destiny as a couple.

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