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La vie moderne

Modern Life

Three quirky parallel universes are intercut but never meet in La Vie moderne, writer-director Laurence Ferreira Barbosa’s tribute to the yearnings and foibles of ordinary, slightly lonely people. In the first story, 17-year-old Marguerite (Lolita Cahmmah) feels persecuted at home and awkward at school. Impetuous and introspective at the same time, she reaches the mystical conclusion she belongs in a convent. In the second strand, the vaguely dissatisfied Claire (Isabelle Huppert) is bored after ten years of marriage and on a trip to Paris she visits a former lover before having an encounter with an American singer she’s always admired (well-played by the late American director Robert Kramer). In the third story, Jacques (Frederic Pierrot), whose wife has left him, has to find a job; his morose, inconclusive interview with a personnel officer is one of the film’s offbeat highlights. There is no overlap between the three stories. Instead, Ferreira Barbosa simply shuffles back and forth between the lives of her characters, whom she observes with enormous affection.

France/Switzerland, 2000.
English subtitles.
Colour.
Dolby digital stereo,
120 min.

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