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Les Destinees sentimentales

Olivier Assayas

Sentimental Destinies

Olivier Assayas (Irma Vep, Late August, Early September) has long wished to film Jacques Chardonne’s 1936 novel Les Destinees sentimentales, and the exquisite results show a deep appreciation of the source material as well as a skill with traditional filmmaking techniques that wasn’t apparent in the director’s previous work. Assayas’s epic film begins in 1900 and passes through more than 30 years in the life of Jean Barnery (Charles Berling). First seen as a Protestant minister married to the stern Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert), Barnery will abandon his faith, his wife and his vocation. A second marriage to Pauline (Emmanuelle Beart) brings happiness, but a restless Barnery eventually rebels against his contentment, switching his energies to developing the family porcelain business in Limoges. War, economic adversity and the burden of personal regrets mark the passage of the years as the couple remain married but drift slowly apart. Meticulous in its attention to detail, beautifully performed and photographed, Assayas’s film is an admirable piece of work that’s remarkable for its sense of time, place and shifting human emotions.

France, 2000.
English subtitles.
Colour. Scope.
Dolby digital stereo.
180 min.

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