Ma Saison Preferee

Director: Andre Techine

One of French director Andre Techine’s best films to date, Ma Saison Preferee is a subtle yet penetrating exploration of family ties and the complex, uncomfortable emotions they can summon up even in the most ordered of lives. Ostensibly it’s a familiar family drama about the problem confronting a mature brother and sister whose widowed mother can no longer be left fo fend for herself. Emilie (Catherine Deneuve) is a public notary in small -town France, and her younger brother Antoine (Daniel Auteuil) is a top Toulouse neurologist. Renunited after many years spent living their very different live, the brother and sister find themselves at loggerheads over what to do about their ageing parent. A whole series of awkward encounters, played out agianst the changing seasons, forces Emily and Antoine to confront some painful truths about people they have become.
What lifts My Favourite Season out of the rut of standard French domestic drama is Techine’s very direct and honest treatment of this material, an approach that pays great dividends when applied to the performances of his two stars. The excellent Auteuil had already proved himself capable of gaining our sympathy for an emotional cripple in A Heart in Winter, but Deneuve’s performance is a real surprise. Playing against her usual image as the cool, mysterious beauty, Deneuve is here forced to reveal a lack of self-control and explore what Techine’s has described as inner fears and reverberations. The results make for a refreshing change in a French cinema of ‘quality’ that’s still too dominated by a polished elegance and empty sense of style. This fine film has also rejuvenated Techine’s flagging career, and he has followed it with an even more ambitious work, Les Roseaux Sauvages (Wild Reeds), which will be released here later in the year.

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