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La Nouvelle Eve

Catherine Corsini

The New Eve

In this, her third feature, French filmmaker Catherine Corsini brings a maturity and lightness of touch to an amusing exploration of the complexity of modern relationships and of the search for love and freedom of expression. Camille (Karen Viard) is a feisty, volatile 30-year-old, determined to resist the cosy domesticity which repels her, but stressed out by her current lifestyle: by day, strife with the kids at the pool where she’s a lifeguard, and by night, increasingly unfulfilling sexual encounters with strangers. Living it up at parties, surrounded by friends, she seems independent and emotionally self-sufficient; in truth, her life lacks tenderness, which becomes blatantly apparent when she’s overwhelmed by a kind but simple gesture from Alexis (Pierre-Loup Rajot), a man she meets in the streets. That he’s married to the super-composed Isabelle (Catherine Frot) and clearly not interested in an affair makes little difference to Camille, who sets out with fierce determination to win him over.

This, then, according to Corsini, is the new Eve: a woman doing the chasing in a very direct, even quite aggressive way. Perfectly cast, Viard portrays with verve and energy a character as irritatingly selfish and contrary as she is endearing and captures the frustration of a woman struggling to reconcile her need for independence with her need for closeness. Not particularly remarkable visually, the film holds up primarily on the strength of the performances (notably in the scenes between Viard and Frot) and because Corsini achieves the right balance between humour and poignancy.

France, 1999.
English subtitles.
Colour.
Dolby stereo SR.
94 mins.

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